Several men have come forward to say they had sexual relationships with or were propositioned by virulently anti-LGBTQ+ minister Jesse Lee Peterson.
The allegations have emerged through Church Militant, a far-right Catholic group and website, and a subsequent investigation by The Daily Beast. “Two of [Peterson’s] former male associates came out in June with on-the-record interviews saying they engaged in sexual activities with him, while other men say he propositioned them,” the Beast reports. “These allegations about the pastor — who in public is staunchly heterosexual — have ripped like an earthquake through the manosphere, prompting some of Peterson’s allies to abandon him and prompting one manosphere conference to ban him.”
The “manosphere” is a “hyper-masculine right-wing internet community,” the Beast explains, and Peterson is one of its biggest stars. He is known for promoting a vision of gender norms that differ even from that of others on the far right; for instance, he asserts that a woman who reaches orgasm during sex is “becoming a man.” He has an online radio show and operates a group called Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, or BOND, and he is said to live with male members of the group at a residence called the “BOND house” in Los Angeles.
On LGBTQ+ issues, he has said that those who participate in Pride parades are “children of Satan” and that “radical homosexuals are evil,” the Beast notes.
Some of his other anti-LGBTQ+ statements, as compiled by GLAAD: saying that Pete Buttigieg, now secretary of Transportation, “flaunts his so-called husband with no shame, kissing him in public, and people applaud like [their marriage is] real”; that Rosie O’Donnell gets “demon instructions” from hell; that “lesbians are really violent in their relationships”; and that “radical homosexuals” have destroyed Black families.
Patrick Rooney is one of the men who said he had a sexual relationship with Peterson, which he claimed lasted about 10 years. He went into detail in a video interview on the Church Militant site in June, but he told the Beast he doesn’t have emails, text messages, or other documentation to back up his allegations.
“Jesse Lee Peterson is a very smart person, he’s a sly person,” Rooney told the Beast. “He’s not going to leave a lot of extraneous evidence out about what he does.”
Another man, Samuel Arambula, said in the Church Militant video that he had sexual contact with Peterson, while Robert Santner, the former manager of the BOND house, “claimed he witnessed Peterson acting physically affectionate towards men in ways that he deemed suspicious,” the Beast notes.
Peterson “has mostly avoided responding to the allegations,” the Beast reports, although one caller to his talk show recently asked him about the Church Militant video. He reacted by calling her “a wicked woman” and hanging up on her.
The video has led to protests at BOND headquarters, and one manosphere leader, Anthony Dream Johnson, has said he will bar Peterson from conferences. In a June newsletter, he wrote that Peterson should “burn in hell,” according to the Beast.
Church Militant’s founder, Michael Voris, has a history of clashing with other figures on the Christian right, the Beast points out. He once identified as gay but now condemns homosexuality. In an email to the Beast, a spokesperson for Church Militant said the video was in response to concerns that Peterson would mislead his “large following of young Catholic men.”
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