When parishioners at Hamilton Square Baptist Church in San Francisco gathered for Sunday evening worship on September 19, they knew it might not be a typical service. But it turned out to be far more eventful than anticipated.

Lou Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition based in Anaheim, California, was the featured speaker. Sheldon has vigorously opposed pro-homosexual legislation in the state, including playing a key role in overturning a 1989 domestic partners ordinance in San Francisco. Though the church did not publicize Sheldon’s visit, two pro-homosexual newspapers did, calling for a protest. Throughout the week before the service, says Hamilton Square pastor David Innes, the church received phone calls from people threatening to disrupt it.

And disrupt it they did, according to Innes and several eyewitnesses. Innes detailed his account of the evening’s events in a two-page news release sent to enlist support from “fellow soldiers in Christ” around the country.

Innes says between 75 and 100 “rioters assumed complete control of the exterior property and grounds of the church.” He claims protesters denied people entrance to the church, in some cases by physical contact. According to Innes, one woman was carried away from the entrance while police stood by watching as both her hands were scratched, breaking the skin.

Rioters, Innes says, vandalized church property, replaced the church’s Christian flag with a homosexual flag, harassed and scared children, pounded on doors during the service, and hurled eggs and rocks at churchgoers. Sheldon was “pelted” by “debris” as he received a police escort to a church van.

More vocal activism?

Although Sheldon has had his home painted with graffiti and his office littered ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.