After the protest Mt. Hope's Rev. James Elieff described it as “an unwelcome and violent demonstration,” and the consensus among members of the congregation and Church staff seemed to be that they couldn't figure out why their church had been targeted for the attack. Elieff described BashBack!'s claims that the church was particularly anti-gay as a "gross misrepresentation."
Unquestionably, the gay community has plenty of reasons to be angry and to demand action. But is this type of protest the most effective way to win support, or is it more likely to generate the kind of hostile and very unsympathetic reaction found on right wing blogs like Right Michigan in the aftermath of the protest? The combination of gay activism with the techniques of radical anarchist groups seems like a very volatile recipe for potential disaster. While this protest did not turn violent, that's more a function of luck than intent. Many who were there believe that the hope was to provoke a violent reaction from members of the congregation. It is also certainly true that BashBack!'s stated agenda is one of countering violence with violence, but targeting groups and society rather than those specifically responsible for anti-gay crimes.
Those on the right who have described this protest as terrorism may be going too far, but it is clear that the intent of BashBack!, as illustrated in photos on their website and their rhetoric, is to emulate the techniques and even appearance of terrorists. It's not a very long trip from acting like terrorists to potentially becoming terrorists and being reacted to as terrorists, and then the potential for violence becomes much greater.
Gay activists can arm themselves easily enough and we're just fortunate that gun-toting gays like local blogger Big Gay Al of the Michigan chapter of the Pink Pistols tend to be more politically conservative and rational in focusing on self-defense rather than radicalism. For that matter, had police shown up sooner and seen protesters garbed as terrorists fleeing the scene, the reaction could have been violent and very unfortunate, though martyrdom might fit the BashBack! agenda.
There are a lot of people working very hard to promote gay rights and gay acceptance, but no matter how many wrongs may have been done in the name of intolerance and no matter how noble the cause, resorting to violence and extreme tactics does more to drive people away from a cause than win them over.