GILLETTE — A Gillette GOP official is catching flak for sharing an article on social media that compares gay rights activists to Nazis. She said she believes the situation has been “blown out of proportion” and that she is being attacked for her beliefs.
“I just reposted an article,” said Vicki Kissack, chairwoman of the Campbell County Republican Party. “There was no ill intention or ill motive behind it. It was just thought-provoking to me.”
On April 29, Kissack shared an article on her personal Facebook page titled “Face Facts: The LGBTQ Movement Wants to Destroy Christianity.” She also quoted a short passage from the end of the article, which claims Christians are in a similar situation to the Jews who were murdered in Auschwitz.
“Jews at Auschwitz passively marched into gas chambers to their death because the Nazis deceived them into believing they were being taken to the showers,” the excerpt reads. “Christians are passively allowing LGBTQ activists to steal the hearts and minds of their children, drive followers of Christ out of business, and threaten pastors with jail time for quoting the Bible. Deceived by the LGBTQ movement, Christians are passively marching to the death of Christianity.”
The article focuses on a bill in the California Legislature that would categorize the promotion of conversion therapy — which seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation — as consumer fraud. While the bill wouldn’t outlaw conversion therapy, it would make it unprofitable.
As of Friday afternoon, Kissack’s post had received 16 likes, 10 shares and 65 comments. She chose not to take it down even after it got media attention.
“We’re in a nation built on liberty and freedoms,” she said. “I don’t think that we should ever retreat on our freedom. We need to rise up and not retreat.”
Kissack also shared the article two days earlier, on April 27 — without the excerpt — and it only got two comments.
On Friday, the Casper Star-Tribune published a front-page story about Kissack’s post. Kissack said she thought the story was “somewhat skewed” and presented things out of context.
“I didn’t know people would attack someone for sharing an article,” she said Friday afternoon. “It’s a very concerning time we live in if that’s where we’re at.”
She said all she wanted to do by sharing the story was “create some individual thought to the subject,” and she’s disappointed that instead it’s being “used to crucify me.”
Kissack said she had been reading many articles about the bill because she heard people were concerned “that it would ultimately lead to outlawing the Bible.”
She said this particular article touched her heart because of “the analogy of people being deceived into thinking something was one way but it was actually another.”
“I was blessed to get to hear a Holocaust survivor once, and it really impacted my life, and I read a couple books (about the Holocaust), I think that’s why it touched my heart,” she said.
In response to the Star-Tribune’s story about Kissack’s Facebook post, the Gillette Mayor’s Office, Campbell County Commission and Wright Mayor’s Office released a joint statement Friday afternoon denouncing intolerance. Kissack’s husband, Clark, is a member of the commission.
“Equality is not an ideal that is reserved for some and withheld from others,” the statement reads.
“We do not support any form of discrimination, including turning a blind eye when intolerance occurs in our community. We believe that every person, regardless of their race, religion, sex, age, political affiliation or sexual orientation deserves equal treatment under the law. We will not tolerate discrimination or hate.”
“To compare any group of people to Nazis is vulgar and against everything that a decent society represents,” Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King said.
Commission Chairman Mark Christensen said Campbell County is diverse and inclusive, and although “we recognize our citizen’s right to free speech, speech that is demeaning and hateful is not representative of Campbell County or our values. Our community deserves better than to be portrayed as a haven for bigotry and intolerance.”
Kissack said she doesn’t think the post would have received all this attention if she wasn’t the head of the local Republican Party.
“I feel like I have been cherry-picked to make an example out of, and that is deeply concerning to me,” she said.
Kissack added that she felt her faith was “part of the attack.”
“I will never, ever apologize for being a Christian. I will never back down from that,” she said. “And that’s OK, because we live in a nation to believe as we choose.”
In a post she made May 1, she said she has friends — including atheists and homosexuals — who don’t share her beliefs.
“(W)e sometimes have colorful discussions, we always challenge each other and yet we choose to remain friends. Why? Because we respect each other and we respect each other’s beliefs,” she wrote.
In a March 3 post, she wrote, “(S)ometimes I post hot-button topics just to see what the pulse of my community is.”
She echoed this sentiment Friday afternoon, saying not all of the articles she shares are reflective of her beliefs.
“I just find some articles interesting, and I like to hear what other people think about that,” she said.
Save for a few family pictures, Kissack said her Facebook page is public, meaning anyone can see the posts and articles she shares. She’s not sure if she’ll change her privacy settings, but said she’ll deal with it on a case-by-case basis.
“Overall, people have been really positive and supportive of just thanking me for being strong and being a person who is a voice for like-minded people,” she said, adding that she had not yet heard from any local Republican leaders.
Kissack became chairman of the Campbell County Republican Party at the end of January when former chairman Doug Gerard resigned to work for Harriet Hageman’s gubernatorial campaign. Kissack previously was vice chairman.
Gerard said he did not want to comment on the situation because he didn’t want anything he said to reflect negatively on Hageman’s campaign.