By Judy Ryder
“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” – Deuteronomy 31:6
In an age of Political Correctness, it is unusual and refreshing to discover someone who exhibits no fear of man, but only of God. Pastor Scott Lively is one of those rare individuals.
When contacted for an interview, he suggested using e-mail since he was returning by boat from a fact-finding tour of Eastern Europe and delivering a speech in London following Brexit. He mentioned the availability of additional background information on the web, while cautioning that some is unfriendly and decidedly untrue. Unwavering devotion to Christ and Biblical principles often makes one an anathema.
Lively, 62, has had four careers over his lifetime, each preparing him in some way for the arduous work he continues despite unpleasant consequences. For example, he is currently being sued by the so-called “Center for Constitutional Rights” (CCR), a NY organization funded by leftist billionaire George Soros. In 2012, CCR filed the suit in a MA federal court at the behest of “Sexual Minorities Uganda” (SMUG), which accused Lively of “crimes against humanity” in violation of international law; this stemmed from a 2009 speech he made to Uganda as an invited guest of several Ugandan pro-family groups. But, we’ll return to that later…
This is hardly Lively’s first tribulation in life. The eldest of six, born in Shelburne Falls, MA, by age 12 he had become an alcoholic as a means of coping with the outbursts of his mentally ill father. At 16, he watched his father, in a psychotic state, being removed from their home following an armed stand-off with state police over an incident involving Lively’s dropping out of school. After eventually surrendering, his father was driven away by police, and spent the rest of his life in the state mental institution.
From 1970 to 1986, Lively drifted about, visiting all 48 continental states and traveling over 25,000 miles by bus, train, or thumb. He was an alcoholic and drug addict by then, often homeless, begging for change, and sleeping under bridges. But somehow, in 1976 he graduated from an offbeat, hippie type of high school, now closed. In 1980 he married Anne and had two sons but, according to him, he had no understanding then of how to be a husband, father, or provider.
In his “first career”, starting as a minimally-skilled handyman in Oregon, over the space of twelve years Lively established a building-trades collective composed of 12 independent contractors working for his Portland Handyman Service.
Lively’s life would soon change dramatically. On February 1, 1986, alone on his knees in his room at a Portland alcoholic rehab center, he surrendered his life to Jesus. Instantly he felt the rush of the Holy Spirit, was delivered from bondage to alcohol and drugs, and has never desired either again.
In 1987, at a Portland traffic intersection, his “former drug dealer and partner in partying and occult circles” approached, but Lively waved him off, explaining he was now a Christian. “So am I”, replied his former drug dealer, and invited him to Portland Foursquare Church. Lively had been going to AA instead of church, looking to Jesus as his “higher power”, but for the next five years, he attended every church meeting. Within weeks he had reunited with Anne, from whom he had been separated for three months, expecting to divorce. They celebrated their 36th anniversary in June 2016.
In 1988, having become sickened and outraged after being shown pictures of aborted babies, Pastor Scott says he “received his ministry”: his “second career”. Within months he’d become a full-time missionary for the unborn — picketing, protesting, and educating the public on his own. In 1989 he joined forces with the Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA). Despite having no formal education or experience, he was soon named State Communications Director, working on a pro-life ballot for the 1990 election. In 1991, due to the rapid advance of the homosexual agenda, the OCA shifted its emphasis from abortion to homosexuality. Lively’s advocacy for the Biblical position on homosexuality resulted in his coming under serious, prolonged attack. Refusing to be intimidated, he determined to prepare for battle by acquiring the necessary skills and credentials to equip him for becoming a leader in the burgeoning global pro-family movement.
During his “third career”, lasting twelve years, Lively concentrated on higher education. In 1995 he graduated with a B. S. in Management and Communications from Western Baptist College (now Corban College) in Salem OR. Also that year, with Ken Abrams, an Orthodox Jew, Lively wrote the first of five editions of The Pink Swastika. The book countered the homosexual movement’s campaign for historical revisionism; since the 1970’s, it had tried to fabricate a “Gay Holocaust” by equating gays’ suffering to that of the Jews in Nazi Germany, but following the book’s publication, the campaign switched its symbol from a pink triangle to the rainbow.
Immediately after college graduation, Lively began four years of law school at Simon Greenleaf University (SMU). Halfway through, SMU merged with Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Thus, in 1999 Lively graduated magna cum laude with a J. D. from Trinity Law School (Santa Ana, CA). While at law school, he earned a Certificate in International Human Rights during a month-long summer seminar at the University of Strasbourg in France. The whole family went, first packing the contents of their Anaheim apartment into storage, then buying plane tickets and leasing a car with the rent money. They spent every spare moment during six weeks in Europe visiting museums, cathedrals, castles, and natural wonders to supplement the daily homeschooling of their sons, ages 11 and 13.
After taking the bar exam, Lively established a dispute resolution center, a for-profit law partnership, and a separate non-profit public interest firm in Southern California. While running these entities, he began searching for how to obtain theological credentials, and soon met Dr. Richard Anderson, the Chairman of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAGA), who agreed to mentor him. After 2 ½ years of study directly under Dr. Anderson, Lively earned his Doctor of Theology and was ordained in 2007. However, he regards his affiliation with PAGA as a formality for purposes of maintaining his ordination status rather than as the source of his pastoral authority. He says, “I have never sought a formal relationship with any denomination or association of churches, and created my own church on my own initiative and authority, choosing Bible-centered Christians from diverse church and social backgrounds for my board.” Neither a Catholic nor a Protestant, he self-identifies as a Bible-centered believer in the absolute sovereignty of God, actively claims the promise of Romans 8:28, and adheres to Paul’s model of evangelism. He endeavors to advance the Kingdom of God by interweaving evangelism and discipleship with Christian activism, guided by the Living Word of God and the Apostles’ understanding of Scripture.
As a family law attorney marketing his legal services to churches, Lively soon discovered that working in the trenches with people experiencing the worst crises of their lives had become too stressful. He believes the Lord taught him to be a pastor through being a lawyer, but when work began interfering with sleep, he prayed for a “new assignment”. Three weeks later he was invited to speak in Latvia at a conference which led to a year-long pro-family educational campaign in the former Soviet Union. After returning from the conference, Lively turned over his share of Lively, Ackerman, and Cowles, and he and Anne, sponsored by a Riga-based Russian-speaking denomination, “New Generation”, traveled through eight countries of the former Soviet Union on a 50-city speaking tour at colleges, churches, and media. Lively credits that campaign in small part to Russia’s adoption of a law banning homosexual propaganda to children, for which he had consistently advocated.
Meanwhile, he’d become impressed with New Generation’s emphasis on “taking the cities for Christ” and its holistic approach to missions, which taught that Jesus is Lord over every sphere of society including business, media, and government. Accordingly, the Livelys began praying for an American city they might re-Christianize for Him. The Lord sent them to Springfield, MA. Deliberately moving into dilapidated inner-city housing there, Lively now launched his “fourth career” as a full-time missionary pastor, applying all he had learned during his first three.
Founding the Coffee House Church, he served as Senior Pastor for seven years while working through Redemption Gate Mission Society (RGMS) on a model stressing evangelism and good works. RGMS, a unique Christian mission reflecting racial and nondenominational harmony, was designed to be streamlined and self-sufficient, annually spending about $25,000 to run multiple ministries and activities out of Holy Grounds Coffee House, 455 State Street, Springfield, MA.
Another of Lively’s ministries, Abiding Truth Ministries, bought that building with profits from an investment fund Lively had created successfully over several years after teaching himself stock market investing. Supporters’ small donations provided a nest egg that grew to $180,000, the first $25,000 of which he donated as grants to other pro-family groups around the country. After the 2008 market crash, the fund was liquidated and the proceeds used to buy and donate the Coffee House building to RGMS.
In September 2015 the Springfield Project was turned over to a mission team of volunteers and ministry partners trained by the Livelys. A vibrant indigenous enterprise, it provides the model for another inner-city Redemption Gate project currently being overseen by Lively in Riverside, CA. In 2014, just prior to leaving MA, Lively ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Massachusetts, citing his desire to bring Biblical values back into the political arena. Though his chances of winning in ultra- liberal Massachusetts were slim to none, the opportunity to advocate for Biblical values from a high-profile debate platform presented an irresistible motivation.
Presently, Lively continues to come under attack for statements allegedly made back in 2009 when he spoke as an invited guest of pro-family groups in Uganda. A 2012 lawsuit filed in a MA federal court cites Lively for allegedly “inflaming passions against homosexuals in Uganda by characterizing all homosexuals as ‘irredeemable genocidal child molesters’”. It’s ironic that such charges could be made to stick against one who once brought a former homosexual, Sonny Weaver, into his home where the Livelys lovingly nursed him both physically and spiritually until ultimately he lost his battle with AIDS. (After being raped at age 7 by a “gay” man at a local YMCA, Weaver became a homosexual, but later accepted Jesus and renounced his former lifestyle.) Lively, insisting that he loves friends and foes alike and just speaks the truth in love, prays for those who despitefully use him and persecute him.
On 11-14-14, Matt Barber reported in WorldNetDaily.com that SMUG, a Ugandan homosexual group, has sued Lively for “crimes against humanity”, the same charge filed against Nazis on trial at Nuremberg. Despite already knowing that Lively publicly opposed that bill (since struck down in Ugandan courts), SMUG claimed Lively masterminded the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality bill in Uganda (where free speech is protected). Worse, CCR/SMUG claimed that Lively’s rhetoric inflamed passions of hate-filled anti-homosexuals who murdered David Kato, whose murder Lively publicly condemned.
Liberty Counsel, who has agreed to defend Lively, pro bono, filed a Motion to Dismiss, noting that Kato had actually been murdered by his “gay” lover, now imprisoned. Some suggest that Judge Michael Ponsor, who denied Liberty Counsel’s Motion to Dismiss, and one of whose ex-wives “married” another woman (and whose daughter once admitted publicly to being a lesbian), may not be dispassionate enough to deliver justice.
Nonetheless, extreme homosexual activists continually work to discredit Pastor Lively and ruin his reputation, a tactic they have successfully used to intimidate countless Christian activists. However, this time they may have barked up the wrong tree, for this pastor has the courage of his convictions, and is not expected to cave any time soon.
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
For more information, go to www.wnd.com/2014/11/the-crucifixion-of-pastor-scott-lively . Liberty Counsel, having recently released a daunting 198-page defense of Lively, is confident the case will ultimately be tossed for lack of evidence.