The Rev. Dan Larsen

The following is reprinted with Patrick Murfin’s permission from “Heretic, Rebel, A Thing to Flout.”

It’s entitled,

Rev. Dan Larsen, A Story of Courageous Love

The Standing on the Side of Love campaign asked for “Stories of Courageous Love” to fill a map with inspiration in advance of Valentines Day. I was delighted to share the story of the Rev. Dan Larsen who has been standing on the side of love for a very long time. Check out the page at and click on the heart over northeastern Illinois.

The Rev. Dan Larsen is the usual suspect. Recently retired from a 19 year ministry at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Woodstock, Illinois and named minister emeritus, Rev. Larsen was the one person the local media knew that they could count on when issues around social justice and discrimination of any kind arose. They knew that one way or another Rev. Larsen and his church would be involved.

Dan Larsen has been Standing on the Side of Love for a long time. In conservative, overwhelmingly white McHenry County, located in the far northwestern corner of the Chicago Metropolitan Area, he stood for love and justice when few others dared to.

Almost immediately upon assuming the Woodstock pulpit he reached out to the Latino community creating the first county wide Hispanic Concerns Task Force and battling housing discrimination and other hurdles faced by that community.

The Rev. Dan Larsen (left) at a protest of the racist Illinois Minutemen.

As numbers of Latinos in the county swelled, so did an ugly racist backlash and in recent years a virulent anti-immigrant sentiment fueled by groups like the Illinois Minutemen. Rev. Larsen helped organize and lead the county’s first big immigration reform march and organized protests to Minutemen meetings.

At church, he developed special outreach and service programs for the community, including a weekly group for Latino women that combined help with learning English with support in finding employment and, when necessary, assistance.

When a faction of the Ku Klux Klan targeted McHenry County in 1997 with a rally at the County Courthouse, Dan Larsen helped organize an interfaith alternative event on historic Woodstock Square.

That event became the Diversity Day Festival which ran annually through 2010, intentionally bringing together people of different racial, ethnic, religious, language, physical and mental challenges, gender, and sexual orientation. The Festival, held in late September or early October, helped local Muslims introduce themselves as a human community in the dark days after the 9/11 attacks. It was also the first public forum in which Gays and Lesbians felt comfortable in participating.

Starting with work educating the public about the real truth about the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the early 1990’s when local media and authorities were spreading both panic and blame on the Gay Community, Larsen has been an advocate for Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, and Transgender community. He offered the church building as the only safe haven in McHenry County for Gay and Gay ally groups to meet. A support group became McHenry County Pride, the first openly gay organization in the county, which continues to meet at the church. The church also housed a pioneering counseling program for Gay teens, who were often the objects of bullying and violence in their high schools, and is the home for the county chapter of PFLAG. Larsen helped the Congregation become certified as a Welcoming Congregation and becoming a comfortable home for Gays and Lesbians. He pioneered in performing religious union ceremonies in the county and if forthrightly advocating marriage equality.

When a proposal to bring the rowing events of the Gay Games to nearby Crystal Lake, Larsen publicly spoke out at meetings packed by screaming protestors of the Park District’s decision to allow the use of the lake. All of these activities have frequently drawn public and privet threats of violence against Larsen and the Church.

This just skims the surface of a remarkable dedication to justice. It fails to mention his outstanding work in the peace movement and in advocacy for health care reform, among other issues.

Just after announcing his retirement, Larsen was diagnosed with advanced throat cancer. After several month of intense treatment, he is on the road to recovery with a good prognosis. And he is back in the saddle working with many of the same groups he reached out to as an active minister.

He was recently elected president of Principled Minds, a local non-profit that partners with other organizations to develop documentary and educational programs designed to fight racism and discrimination.


The Rev. Dan Larsen — 7 Comments

  1. This is a cult and definitely not a church as most think of church secular. Nothing God fearing about it.

    Right from their own website they say: “In our congregation we have Christians, Jews, Atheists, Humanists, Buddhists, Spiritualists, Pagans, and people for whom a label cannot adequately describe their beliefs – and there is room for your beliefs, too.”

    The Rev Dan? I hate using the term REVEREND when talking about him. The Rev Dan is a far leftist that wants open borders and criticizes the police for arresting Mexicans for driving offenses because it is CULTURAL. In Mexico they flee when involved in an accident because police are corrupt so that excuses their actions here. In Mexico they don’t have drivers licenses like here in the USA and because the nasty country we live in will not give ILLEGALS drivers licenses what choice do they have.

    His church has this “if it feels good do it” attitude with no moral limitations. I almost vomit when the NWH or anyone gives him a platform to spew his leftist Un-American propaganda.

  2. Allow me to please make some corrections to the commenter above.

    Mexico DOES in fact, require a drivers license for a Mexican citizen to drive a car in Mexico. Your American license will allow you to legally drive while in Mexico.

    Mexico does NOT require automobile insurance for cars, per say. But, if you finance a car via a bank in Mexico, for instance HSBC is very big in Mexico, the bank will ‘tack on’ insurance to your monthly loan payment and build it into the loan. Interest rates on cars starts at about 14 percent.

    Mexico has for the past several years, REALLY been pushing the ‘Credit’ thing.

    Any commercial vehicle, semi tractor trailers for commerce, ARE REQUIRED to carry full insurance.

    Now, as to why do Hispanics flee the scene of the accident. “Let’s just talk about the truth here, we know this is what often times is the case.”

    The reason is not because they do not have to a drivers license in Mexico as was stated in the above comment. Here is the real reason.

    In Mexico, because they do not require basic drivers to carry insurance, a “BODY ATTACHMENT” is your insurance.

    In other words, if you cause an accident of any sort, the police come to the scene and the person who caused the accident is immediately arrested, even at times hand cuffed to the hospital bed, and you are placed in jail until such time as you PAY IN FULL all the damages you caused.

    Now, if you are smart, and have insurance and cause an accident in Mexico, (your US insurance does NOT cover you in Mexico, you need to purchase a Mexican Insurance Policy BEFORE you attempt to drive into Mexico, and that can be found online and the coverage is good. California based company is really good.)

    But, if you do have insurance, the police will still take you ‘down town’ and they will call your insurance carrier to verify you have insurance and an adjuster will come to the police station RIGHT AWAY to ‘settle the claim’ right then and there.

    Then, you are freed.

    Yes, if you have an accident in Mexico at 11 PM, an insurance adjuster will come get you out of jail, and give money to injured and or damaged and they settle the claim immediately.

    But, if you have no insurance, let me tell you, you are in a world of trouble down there………THIS IS WHY MEXICANS FLEE THE SCENE OF ACCIDENTS HERE…



    You will be targeted by the drug cartels and the military police both.

    Cartels will take your vehicle because they can smuggle more people and drugs in these type vehicles, and the Military Police will stop you at the varies Mexican Military check points on the HWY’S in Mexico (yes, we should have those check points on our interstates here) and they will rip apart your Suburban or Pickup with a ‘shell’ searching for drugs.

    If you MUST drive in Mexico, there are two musts.

    1) Get a special MEXICAN INSURANCE POLICY that is good in Mexico only

    or This company is excellent…and you will be shocked at how cheap it is… its California based but they have agents in Mexico.

    2) PRE- REGISTER your car to take into Mexico so your not stuck at the boarder for 2 days while your ‘application’ for a temp license plate sticker is processed.

    This link will take you to Banjercito Bank.. YOU NEED to PRE Register your car, must have a CLEAR TITLE or a LETTER FROM YOUR LENDER to take vehicle out of country.. this note must be notarized by your bank.

    This registration is all done online, scan you title and you need to provide a time frame that you will be coming into Mexico.

    This service is incredible and very honest and reliable. From the time you submit your application online for your TEMP MEX LICENSE PLATE (its a window sticker) they FED EX your documents within 48 hours.

    But if you try to drive your car over the boarder without this registration, you will have to pay a guy off at the boarder to ‘start’ your paper work, and it could set you back days of waiting.

    If you must drive into Mexico, that in itself I can assure you is an adventure, now very dangerous I do not suggest it, but if you plan on doing so, please follow the links I have provided and make sure you have yourself insured and licensed.

    Good luck and Happy Trails!

  3. That was good information that you posted and I will pass it along to some friends that have the idea they can drive in Mexico as long as they have USA car insurance.

    Mexicans also flee becuase they fear the Mexican Police. When the cops arrive they are often robbed by the police. Corruption is rampant. I have never travel tpo Mexicao even to the resort areas.

    My friend took his motorhome down there several years ago and joined a caravan of numerous other motorhomes driving cross Mexico. At one point they pulled inside a parking area surronded by high chain fence while their ‘guide” had posted security men with assault rifles to protect the parked motorhomes. I don’t think that is something that I desire to subject myself to.

  4. Rich, I think a couple US Insurance Carriers might be offering coverage into Mexico if you already have a US Policy. Allstate may be one of the companies. Call your agent first. But if I recall, there were only 2 or so, if that.

    But the coverage from the company I have listed above is so cheap and so comprehensive and they have agents in Mexico its a must to purchase.

    But to your friends, it is a MUST to Pre-Register their cars so they can get their ‘permit’ to drive in Mexico. Banjercito as I have linked above, is excellent.

    (Banjercito is a well respected Bank)

    Just scan your drivers license, and car title and registration and send it as an attachment to the online application, and go ahead and pay with credit card. I was shocked at how fast and professional the service was.

    I had my permits within 48 hours of sending the application via Fed EX. This way, you put your sticker on your windshield, and just drive straight thru…

    They have a “Red Light” “Green Light” system of ‘searching’ cars.

    If you cross and get the ‘green light’ they waive you thru…especially if you already have your permit on your windshield, but you can also get the ‘red light’ and an agent makes you pull over and they go thru your stuff…

    I did in fact have an accident in Mexico and the insurance as I’ve also linked above was fantastic.

    I did in fact pay off 2 cops, 20.00 each, to not take me into custody and the driver of the other car and I just went back to my house and the insurance adjuster came over, gave an appraisal of the damages, and gave the man his money and it was over.

    But I was in a lucky and unusual situation… I was working in the DOJ and the cops knew me.

    Although the accident was not my fault, TRUST ME, if you an American with license plates upon your car that show this, it won’t matter, YOU WILL BE AT FAULT!

    There used to be a day where taking a family RV road trip deep into Mexico was a great adventure. I’ve driven all the way down into Acalpulco.

    When I went down there to work, the Chief Justice was gunned down in Acapulco, my brother in law is the head of state security.. like our Secret Service. that area of mexico just like the Boarder towns, is very very dangerous now as well.

    Also, if you have a nice travel van, with TV and stuff, you run a high risk of being led into one of those ‘fenced in areas’ you so correctly spoke about, and never getting to drive your van out of there.

    The guys I worked with took me to see those ‘fenced in areas’ some several times larger than football fields, all FULL OF U.S. Suburbans, trucks and tricked out Vans.. all taken under threat..

    And, if you run into a dirty local cop, he will also take your personal things as well.

    I do have to say however, all this being said, I found the Mexican Military soldiers who conduct the ‘road checks’ to be highly professional and polite and non threatening.

    The problem police are the ‘locals’ like I got stopped in Tampico outside Veracruz for no reason and had to cough up 1,000 or the cop was going to take my suburban and all personal belongings!!

    I must tell you, and I cannot be any more clear. DO NOT ATTEMPT to drive into Mexico at this time.

    I enjoy humor and I do my bit of ‘Satire’ and play the ‘insane’ one at times on these blogs…. but this is serious business we are talking about…

    If there is any single thing a person believes what Im telling them, it is that you SHOULD NOT drive into Mexico, especially now.

    If you must have an adventure…. Fly down, and seek out a cab driver and ask him how much he would charge to drive you around ….many cab guys are independent.. he can drive, and translate too.

    Remember, money in Mexico is not flowing back from US as it was….. thus the stakes and risks are even greater of your being robbed. If they stop at that, consider yourself lucky.

    I am in touch with Mexican authorities and family members on a regular basis, the US News in NOT reporting what is REALLY going on… it is much more serious that most can imagine.

    Careful if you have in your car as you cross the boarder, NEW DVD players, (you are limited to 5 DVD’s tax free on your person) any new ELECTRONIC devices will be taxed at 17 percent of NEW PRICE value…(The Mexican Gov. wants you to buy in Mexico not bring to Mexico.)

    Again, much depends on the agent you get…

    Now on a great note… Mexico is a gorgeous country and a road trip is one heck of an adventure.. roads literally can just end.. so you follow the cows to find where the road starts again… its wild!

    Now, if you stay on the Interstate System, its wide open and brand new.. I would take the interstate out of S. Texas into Mexico.. but then again, there is no adventure there!!!

    Because the Mexican Interstate is so new, and has “Toll Booths” most Mexicans don’t use it because they refuse to pay. its crazy… the Mexican Interstate is great I figured that out on the way out of Mexico.. I wished I had somebody tell me all the stuff Im telling you folks before I went down there.

    Also, there are no hotels on the interstate like we have here at every exit.. you will need to get off the interstate and venture into some city or town.. THERE is where you can find trouble….

    I wouldn’t do it! PERIOD! Especially if you cannot speak Spanish.

    Dave Bachmann, Big Bird (I stole it from Kevin Lyons!)

  5. Aside from the lesson in Mexican insurance which was informative, it must be a slow day that Cal must reprint an article about this dipwad. I too have distain for Larson. He insults our armed forces, protests against decency in favor of abhorrent behaviors.

    How can a man stand in front of any group and call himself a REV. when he does not preach the Gospel but condoms witchcraft, satanism and other cult religions and basically provides a meeting place for such activities? He is not much better than a tribal medicine man.

    I know two people that attended that ‘church’ and then left when it was even too bizarre for them.

    I remember his group protesting the Iraq war and yelling Viet Nam era slogans and carrying anti American signs. One of their favorite haunts was Main and Rte 14 in Crystal Lake.

    Cal you fell down several notches in my book for highlighting this kook.
    Shame on you.

  6. Rev. Dan Larsen also took over where the McHenry County Peace Group left off. When founders Ann Legg and Libby Papplardo folded the organization, Dan took us that were left in and coordinated a county wide peace coalition.

  7. Regardless what Dan Larsen did, he is just as vile a person as Jane Fonda or any other nutcase far left liberal. His contempt for the laws of this country has been obvious in his actions. I have no use for the man and agree with previous commenter’s that giving him accolades when there are legitimate heroes out there sucks.

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