Bishop Desond Tutu, in advance of the launch of the United Nations gay rights program in South Africa yesterday, told a French newspaper that he would rather go to hell than to a homophobic heaven. Speaking to Agence France-Presse Tutu stated, “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this”.
He went on to say, “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place”.
Tutu, who has a long and distinguished history of fighting for civil rights, including battling apartheid, even went to so far as to compare the current fight for lgbt rights to his past battles in South Africa. “I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level,” he concluded.
The Massachusetts Catholic Conference issues a statement regarding the Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA
The Massachusetts Catholic Conferences (the public policy arm of the four area bishops) has issued a statement regarding the Supreme Court's decision earlier today which struck down several key components of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
From the Conference:
The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman and a gift to children and society. Today, more than ever, the institution of marriage needs to be strengthened, not redefined as twelve states (including Massachusetts)and the District of Columbia have done.
This morning, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA) which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional. The Court based that decision primarily on the principle that DOMA deprives equal protection under the Fifth Amendment to those citizens lawfully married in those thirteen jurisdictions. The Court did not hold that the Constitution requires marriage redefinition in those states that do not recognize same sex marriage.
The Bishops of Massachusetts are extremely disappointed that the Court has struck down DOMA. The Church continues to stand for the traditional definition of marriage, an institution which unites one man and one woman with any children who may come from that union. Marriage, as a natural institution, predates both religion and government and is grounded in the nature of the human person. Protecting the traditional definition of marriage affirms the basic rights and dignity of women and men while safeguarding the basic rights of children.
The Associated Press is reporting on notes from a closed door meeting where Pope Francis is said to have spoken about a "gay lobby," confirming its existence in the Vatican.
The report, as published at the New York Times reads:
The Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious, the regional organization for priests and nuns of religious orders, confirmed Tuesday that its leaders had written a synthesis of the pope’s remarks after their audience with him last Thursday. The group, known by its Spanish acronym CLAR, said it was greatly distressed that the document had been published and apologized to the pope.
The document quotes Francis as saying that while there were many holy people in the Vatican, there was also “a current of corruption.” “The ‘gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there ... We need to see what we can do ...” the synthesis reads.
More at: The New York Times.
Fred Phelps Jr., the son of Fred Phelps who leads the Westboro Baptist Church, has tweeted that he believes the tornadoes that recently leveled areas in and around Oklahoma City are the result of Kevin Durant's support of former Celtic Jason Collins. Durant plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA and Collins recently came out as gay.
Durant has also pledged to donate $ million to the recovery efforts in Oklahoma City.
ESPN NBA analyst Chris Broussard, while appearing on the cable station’s show Outside The Lines, yesterday compared homosexuality and premarital sex to an “open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ.”
Broussard who began his sports writing career for The Plain Dealer before moving to the Akron Beacon Journal where he started covering the NBA. He joined ESPN Magazine in 2004 and started appearing on ESPN shortly thereafter.
While on Outside The Lines (to discuss NBA player Jason Collins' announcement that he is gay) Broussard commented that he doesn’t "believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly ... like premarital sex between heterosexuals. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says 'you know them by their fruits.' It says that, you know, that’s a sin."
He went on to say, “if you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality -- adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals -- whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian."
Shortly after the program aired ESPN released the following statement:
We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.
The Westboro Baptist Church, known for picketing funerals of military veterans, victims of terrorist attacks, and the victims of the Newtown school shooting has weighed in on yesterday’s marathon bombings.
Westboro, based in Kansas, tweeted: “BREAKING: Westboro Baptist Church to picket funerals of those dead by Boston Bombs! GOD SENT THE BOMBS IN FURY OVER FAG MARRIAGE! #PraiseGod.”
Another tweet, referring to the Ellen DeGeneres Show, said:
“Everyone can give a big thanks to the likes of @TheEllenShow in supporting same-sex marriage – THAT is the reason GOD SENT BOSTON BOMBS!”
The group came into the spotlight in 1998, for picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was killed in a homophobic attack in Wyoming.
In 2005, Westboro began its campaign of picketing the funerals of fallen US troops.
The church also blamed homosexuality for the Newton massacre in Connecticut where 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook elementary school in December.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, appearing on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, said that gays are “entitled to friendship,” but not sexual love or marriage.
Dolan also said that the church “is not anti-anybody,” and that it needs to do a better job conveying that message.
When asked by Stephanopoulos to respond to gays and lesbians looking to get married in church, Dolan said, "Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, 'I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness. And – and we – we want your happiness. But – and you’re entitled to friendship.' But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally. We gotta be – we gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that."
Folk singer Michelle Shocked, who made headlines earlier this week for her spontaneous anti-gay rant during a show in San Francisco, and the subsequent fall out from the rant, has issued an apology...of sorts.
During the show, at club Yoshi, Shocked stated “If someone would be so gracious as to please tweet out, ‘Michelle Shocked just said from stage, God hates faggots.’ Would you do it now?” among other anti-gay sentiments (the audio can be heard HERE).
In a statement distributed by her publicist yesterday the singer has attempted to distance herself from the rant.
I do not, nor have I ever, said or believed that God hates homosexuals (or anyone else). I said that some of His followers believe that. I believe intolerance comes from fear, and these folks are genuinely scared. When I said “Twitter that Michelle Shocked says “God hates faggots,” I was predicting the absurd way my description of, my apology for, the intolerant would no doubt be misinterpreted. The show was all music, and the audience tweets said they enjoyed it. The commentary came about ten minutes later, in the encore. And to those fans who are disappointed by what they’ve heard or think I said, I’m very sorry: I don’t always express myself as clearly as I should. But don’t believe everything you read on facebook or twitter. My view of homosexuality has changed not one iota. I judge not. And my statement equating repeal of Prop 8 with the coming of the End Times was neither literal nor ironic: it was a description of how some folks – not me – feel about gay marriage.
The show, and the rant, was spontaneous. As for those applauding my so-called stance that “God Hates Faggots,” I say they should be met with mercy, not hate. And I hope that what remains of my audience will meet that intolerance with understanding, even of those who might hate them.
Folks wonder about my sexuality, but denying being gay is like saying I never beat my husband. My sexuality is not at issue. What is being questioned is my support for the LGBT community, and that has never wavered. Music and activism have always been part of my work and my journey, which I hope and intend to continue. I’d like to say this was a publicity stunt, but I’m really not that clever, and I’m definitely not that cynical.
But I am damn sorry. If I could repeat the evening, I would make a clearer distinction between a set of beliefs I abhor, and my human sympathy for the folks who hold them. I say this not because I want to look better. I have no wish to hide my faults, and – clearly – I couldn’t if I tried.
That statement was followed by a second:
I believe in a God who loves everyone, and my faith tells me to do my best to also love everyone. Everyone: gay or straight, stridently gay, self-righteously faithful; left or right, far left, far right; good, bad, or indifferent. That’s the law: everyone.
I may disagree with someone’s most fervently held belief, but I will not hate them. And in this controversy, that means speaking for Christians with opinions I in no way share about homosexuality. Will I endorse them? Never. Will I disavow them? Never.
I stand accused of forsaking the LGBT community for a Christianity which is – hear me now – anathema to my understanding of faith. I will no doubt take future flack for saying so. I’m accused of believing that “God hates fags” and that the repeal of Prop 8 will usher in the End Times. Well, if I caused such an absurdity, I am damn sorry. To be clear: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of any so-called faith preaching intolerance of anyone. Again, anyone: straight or gay, believers or not: that’s the law.
That means upholding my punk rock values in the most evangelical enclaves and, in this case, speaking up for the most fearful of fundamentalists in, well, a San Francisco music hall full of Michelle Shocked fans.
As an artist in this time of unbearable culture wars, I understand: this means trouble, and this is neither the first nor last time trouble has come my way. And that’s fine by me.
I know the fear many in the evangelical community feel about homosexual marriage, as I understand the fear many in the gay community feel toward the self-appointed faithful. I have and will continue speaking to both. Everything else – facebook, twitter, whatever – is commentary.
After news broke of the singers rant all 11 of her remaining scheduled shows were cancelled...10 by the clubs where she was to play, and 1 by Shocked herself.
A coalition of groups working on behalf LGBT Catholics and their allies offered prayers and hope that the new pope's oft-cited humility will make him amenable to hearing the voices of those who they say have been "denigrated" by the Church in the past.
Noting that, as a cardinal, the current Pope Francis once characterized equal marriage for same-sex couples as "a machination of the Father of Lies,” Equally Blessed, which includes participation from DignityUSA, New Ways Ministry, Call To Action, and Fortunate Families, stated that many of the comments he once made "are not statements worthy of a pope, or, for that matter, anyone in pastoral ministry."
The groups say they pray that "God will grant him the courage to listen to the voices of all of God’s children, especially those who have been oppressed, marginalized and denigrated by the church in the past."
Here's from the complete press release statement:FULL ENTRY
Now that a new pope has emerged from the conclave, gay Catholics around the world are wondering, will Pope Francis attempt to move the church in a new, more progressive, direction? Or will he continue the path set by his predecessor?
If Cardinal Bergoglio’s own words are any indication it looks as though there will be no shift in the church’s position on homosexuality. While serving in Argentina Bergoglio strongly opposed legislation on same-sex marriage and claimed that gay couples adopting was a form of discrimination against children, a stance Argentina president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said reminded her of “medieval times and the Inquisition.”
Regarding the marriage equality legislation he wrote, “At stake are the lives of many children who are discriminated against in advance by depriving them of human growth that God wanted to given with a father and a mother. At stake is a total rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts as well.” He added, “we are not naive: it is not just a political struggle is a destructive attempt to God’s plan. It is not just a bill (this is only the instrument) but a ‘move’ from the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
Below is a statement released by the Human Rights Campaign:
“We congratulate Pope Francis in his new position as leader for the Roman Catholic Church. As Pope, he has enormous power to be a source of spiritual healing for millions around the world. But for him to be the best kind of spiritual leader, he must acknowledge the signs of the times and embrace LGBT people as worthy of dignity and respect. American lay Catholics are fully supportive of equality, even more so than the broader population. The new Pope should follow the virtuous lead of his flock.
“We hope the new Pope understands the time for religious-based bigotry is not only over, but must be denounced. Demonizing LGBT people and their families from this powerful platform not only fails to keep faith with the most charitable principles of Catholic teachings and the Jesuit tradition of caring for the marginalized, but it does real psychological damage to millions of LGBT people around the world.”
Boston Spirit magazine's 2013 LGBT Executive Networking Night originally scheduled for March 7th has been rescheduled for Wednesday night March 20th. For more information and to RSVP visit www.bostonspiritmagazine.com
Dressed as Pope John Paul II for Halloween, 1978.
By James Lopata
I have a photo of me dressed as Pope John Paul II from 1978.
Sometimes I laugh when see it. Other times, not so much.
It was a great time to be Catholic then. In the vibrant post-Vatican II parish where I was raised, we sang, we danced, we waved daffodils and launched multi-colored balloons at Easter. There was a spirit moving all over.
It strikes me as funny that, as a baptized Catholic male, I am technically eligible for the position of pontiff, even though I haven’t attended Mass in several years.
Funny, yes, but even more, sad.
The desire to have much of anything to do with the Catholic Church that I loved so much has departed. I know I am not alone. According to the Holy See's own statistics, there are millions of lapsed Catholics all over the world.
Using the Vatican's Statistical Yearbook of the Church, Catholic News Service noted that although the total Catholic population is up 29 percent from 1990 to 2010, confirmations are up only 10 percent, and first communions are actually down 5 percent. These figures demonstrate that the faith is in global retreat.FULL ENTRY
Pope Benedict's 'intense relationship' with 'handsome male companion' scrutinized by Andrew Sullivan
Pope Benedict XVI with his secretary Georg Ganswein, May 10, 2007, in São Paulo, Brazil. (photo: Agência Brasil/Wikipedia Commons)
An unusual relationship Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has with his secretary Georg Ganswein is under scrutiny by blogger Andrew Sullivan.
Calling the former pope's connection with the "handsome" secretary "intense," Sullivan wonders why Ganswein is expected to continue assisting the former pope even while maintaining his role as prefect of the household for the next pope.
Are we supposed to think that’s, well, a normal arrangement? …
This man – clearly in some kind of love with Ratzinger (and vice-versa) will now be working for the new Pope as secretary in the day and spending the nights with the Pope Emeritus. This is not the Vatican. It’s Melrose Place.
More from The Dish at dish.andrewsullivan.com.
Local 'pro-family' organization leader compares Massachusetts school administrators to "Nazi concentration camp guards"
In a recent radio interview with VCY America Brian Camenker of the anti-gay, ‘pro-family’ group MassResistance, compared Massachusetts school administrators to “Nazi concentration camp guards” in response to the Mass Department of Education’s directive regarding the use of bathrooms and participation on sports teams for transgender students.
Camenker, while on the talk show Crosstalk, said "These school administrators, you know I mean you think of them as what the Nazi concentration camp guards must have been like where they are doing this horrible evil and they are just taking orders or something, they believe in it. People need to rise up because it is only going to get worse."
The directive in question states that ‘‘the student may access the restroom, locker room, and changing facility that corresponds to the student’s gender identity.” It goes on to state that “whether a student identifies as a boy or girl is up to the student or, in the case of younger students, the parents.”
Not to be outdone, FOX news host Bill O’Reilly also jumper on the anti-LGBT bandwagon earlier this week calling the Massachusetts Department of Education’s decision “insane” and “madness.”
"Here’s how insane you are and this whole thing is, and this is truly madness, ladies and gentlemen. You’re telling me that a kid can go to a public school in Massachusetts, immediately upon entering the school take off the kid’s shirt and put on a dress, go to the girls’ room when he’s a boy, and then change his name from John to Tiffany. And then after school, put the shirt back on, go home, and he’s still John," said O’Reilly.
Equality Blog has written an excellent piece explaining, in clear and factual terms, the many reasons why O’Reilly’s rant was misleading, incorrect, and factually inaccurate.
In an explosive interview with CNN’s Christine Amanpour former Dominican Friar Mark Dowd claimed that half, if not more, of those attracted into the seminaries and the priesthood are gay. Dowd went on to say that homosexuality is “the ticking time bomb in the Catholic Church,”
“On the one hand the church teaches that the condition of same sex attraction is intrinsically disordered, those are Cardinal Ratzinger’s own words from 1986 and yet we know that actually about half, if not more, of all the people attracted into the seminaries and the priesthood are gay themselves,” said Dowd.
“When you have this culture of secrecy and guilt and repression,” he continued, “you have conditions which foster the potential for blackmail and for manipulation.”
Dowd, who is now a journalist, said that gay men are “massively over-represented” within the Church. He base his statements on what he called “on- and off-the-record conversations with members of the Church, as well as personal experience.”
Vatican journalist Marco Politi disagreed with Dowd’s claims and the recently reported notion of a “gay lobby” within the Vatican.
“The idea of a gay cabal is rubbish,” he said. “Here in the Vatican, there are monsignors who have love affairs, with women and with men. But they hide it. They are liberals or conservatives, but certainly they don’t act like a gay lobby.”
St. Peter's Basilica seen through a keyhole at the Villa Malta (photo: AngMoKio/Wikimedia Commons)
An article in an Italian newspaper contends that Pope Benedict XVI may be resigning as a result of a scandal involving homosexuality at the Vatican.
A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.
The pope's spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report, which was carried by the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.
The La Repubblica story contends that Benedict decided to resign on the day that he received an internal report concerning the 'Vatileaks' case, which involved information leaked by the pope's butler.
More from The Guardian:
According to La Repubblica, the dossier comprising "two volumes of almost 300 pages – bound in red" had been consigned to a safe in the papal apartments and would be delivered to the pope's successor upon his election.
The newspaper said the cardinals described a number of factions, including one whose members were "united by sexual orientation".
In an apparent quotation from the report, La Repubblica said some Vatican officials had been subject to "external influence" from laymen with whom they had links of a "worldly nature". The paper said this was a clear reference to blackmail.
Further, The Guardian helpfully provides broader context for the accusation of a 'gay network' at the Holy See:
La Repubblica's report was the latest in a string of claims that a gay network exists in the Vatican. In 2007 a senior official was suspended from the congregation, or department, for the priesthood, after he was filmed in a "sting" organised by an Italian television programme while apparently making sexual overtures to a younger man.
In 2010 a chorister was dismissed for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting. A few months later a weekly news magazine used hidden cameras to record priests visiting gay clubs and bars and having sex.
More at The Guardian: here.
The Advocate is reporting that popular, Christian quarterback Tim Tebow, is tweeting that he is withdrawing from speaking at First Baptist Church of Dallas, which has a history of using anti-LGBT rhetoric.
According the report, Tebow tweeted:
"While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ's unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, ... due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!"
The 'ex-gay' movement took another blow when Christian Post columnist and self-professed ex-gay Matt Moore was discovered with a profile on popular gay hook-up app Grindr.
The Huffington Post reports:
An "ex-gay" Christian advocate, who blogs about how religion saved him from a life of homosexual sin, was recently discovered on gay hookup app Grindr.
Matt Moore, a blogger for the Christian Post, writes extensively about how Christianity has helped him to turn away from a gay lifestyle. But, apparently it didn't help him quite enough to steer him away from Grindr.
Freethought Blogs writer Zinnia Jones, LGBT rights activist and HuffPost GayVoices blogger, was the first to expose Moore's Grindr account on Monday. At first, she questioned if the account could be a fake, but Moore later admitted the Grindr profile was his.
The full story can be accessed here.
Are French bishops of the Roman Catholic Church for or against same-sex marriage laws that are being considered in France? Without answering a definitive 'oui' or 'non,' they recently released a document entitled "Expand Marriage to Persons of the Same Sex? Let's Open the Debate!" which keeps the question open.FULL ENTRY
As we ready ourselves to celebrate what would have been Rev. Martin Luther King’s 84th birthday an article in Huffington Post by local Rev. Irene Monroe asks the question ‘Would King, a champion of civil rights, have been a vocal supporter of equal rights for the lgbt community?’
As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day 2013, we no longer have to hold King up to a godlike standard. All the hagiographies written about King after his assassination have come under scrutiny as we have come to better understand all of him: his greatness and his flaws and human foibles. As I comb through numerous books and essays, learning more about King's philandering, his sexist attitude toward women at home and in the movement, and his tenuous relationship with the openly gay Bayard Rustin, I am wondering whether King really would be a public advocate for LGBTQ rights.
Monroe goes on to report that King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, while speaking to Lambda Legal, an organization of lawyers supporting lgbt rights, stated they she felt Dr. King would have been a supporter of the cause. "I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King's dream to make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people," said Scott King.
Monroe, however, appears less convinced and goes on to offer up recent examples via other members of Dr. King’s family:
King's youngest and only living daughter, Rev. Bernice King, who has been rumored for years to be a lesbian, as well as his niece, Alveda King, have historically thought otherwise. In 2004 the cousins, along with thousands of protesters, participated in a march against same-sex marriage in Atlanta. In January 2005 Newsweek asked Alveda, who has aligned herself with the religious right and frequently wields her family name and her voice against LGBTQ rights, whether Martin Luther King would be a champion of LGBTQ rights. "No, he would champion the word of God," she replied. "If he would have championed gay rights today, he would have done it while he was here. There was ample opportunity for him to champion gay rights during his lifetime, and he did not do so." She added, "My cousin, the Rev. Bernice King, has said that she knows in her sanctified soul that her father did not take a bullet for same-sex marriage."
And finally there is this, from Bayard Rustin, whom many considered to be Dr. King’s chief strategist and most trusted advisor:
Martin Luther King, with whom I worked very closely, became very distressed when a number of the ministers working for him wanted him to dismiss me from his staff because of my homosexuality. Martin set up a committee to discover what he should do. They said that, despite the fact that I had contributed tremendously to the organization ... they thought that I should separate myself from Dr. King. This was the time when [Rev. Adam Clayton] Powell threatened to expose my so-called homosexual relationship with Dr. King.(In an effort to marginalize Rustin, several people conjured up rumors of a homosexual relationship between Rustin and King)
Rustin offered to resign and King did not reject the offer. "Basically [King] said I can't take on two queers at one time," according to one of Rustin's associates.
Monroe concludes by recalling a letter she wrote to an associate on the topic, "I agree that you have to wonder whether King would support LGBTQ rights today, even if he felt he couldn't in the 60s. You'd like to think he would given his courageous stands otherwise. I now believe that not only would King not have supported LGBTQ rights but his relevance on social issues would have continued to wane considerably had he survived.”
President Obama has replaced conservative, anti-LGBT Rev. Louie Giglio with pro-LGBT Rev. Luis Leon to deliver the benediction at the upcoming inauguration on January 21st.
The original choice of Giglio caused a bit of an uproar in the lgbt community as audio tape of the conservative evangelical surfaced in which he spoke out against the “aggressive agenda” of the gay community and went on to say that gay people could change their lifestyle “through the healing power of Jesus.” Giglio asked out of the inauguration fearing that his prayer would be "dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration."
Leon's parish is known for welcoming openly gay members. The church has had a gay bishop, blesses same-sex marriages and has stated that it would ordain transgender priests.
Both President Obama (and his family) and former President George W. Bush (and his family) have attended Rev. Leon’s Episcopal church on a fairly regular basis.
Leon was baptized into the Episcopal Church in Guantanamo, Cuba. In 1961, when he was 12 years old, he came to the U.S. and settled in Miami. A graduate of the University of the South, he has a Masters in Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary, and in 1999 was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of the South. He is well known for teaching courses nationwide in parish building and stewardship
Pope Benedict XVI used his annual Christmas address to the Vatican to take aim at homosexuals, who he said were destroying the “very essence of the human creature.”
"People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being," he said. "They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man's fundamental choice where he himself is concerned," he said.
"When freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God," Benedict continued.
The Pope went on to say that allowing gays to adopt children was “an attack” on the traditional family.
Several Catholic groups in the U.S. were quick to respond to the Pope’s remarks.
"Increasingly Catholics in the United States and around the world see what we see. Catholics, following their own well-formed consciences, are voting to support equal rights for LGBT people because in their churches and communities they see a far healthier, godly and realistic vision of the human family than the one offered by the pope," said a statement from the groups Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has launched a new website with the goal of promoting “greater sensitivity and better understanding” among Latter-day Saints with regards to same-sex attraction.
“When people have those (same-sex) desires and attractions our attitude is, ‘stay with us’” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a video that introduces the subject of the website. “I think that’s what God is saying: stay with me. And I think that’s what we want to say in the church: stay with us, and let’s work together in friendship and commonality and brotherhood and sisterhood.
“Here (in the church) more than anywhere, it’s important that there be love, that there be hope’” Elder Christofferson continued. “We want to be with you and work together.”
The website is part of an effort by the church “to teach and clarify the church’s positions” on various issues, said LDS spokesman Michael Purdy.
Production for the site has been underway for more than two years, Purdy said.
“Too often these types of big, important issues are dealt with in sound bites, and often by individuals who do not have the complete picture of what the church is doing’” Purdy said. “We hope (the website) will be a resource for better understanding and better communication.”
Utilizing personal, real-life stories told by members of the church who have first-hand experience with same-sex attraction themselves or through close friends and family members, the website’s goal is to help Latter-day Saints “come together to foster a climate of goodwill and a determination to understand the workings of God in each individual life.”
“We’re not endeavoring here to cover the waterfront and address every issue that could be, and needs to be, addressed in different settings relating to same-sex attraction,” Elder Christofferson said. “The idea is to open all of us to greater understanding.”
Elder Christofferson noted that “although we don’t know everything, we know enough to be able to say that same-sex attraction is not itself sin. The feeling, the desire is not classified the same as homosexual behavior itself.” Sexual identification, he continued, “is but one aspect of any person’s life, and it need not become the consuming element of any person’s life.”
What is important, he said, is “how we relate to one another, how we preserve hope and understanding and love, and how we struggle together in some cases.”
“We want people to feel that they have a home here (in the LDS Church), and that we have much more in common than anything that’s different about us,” Elder Christofferson said.
For many years those within the lgbt community have read stories in lgbt press regarding the Salvation Army. Most of these stories revolved around the fact that the nation’s largest charity is decidedly anti-gay.
Now, with the explosion of social media, the noise regarding the Salvation Army’s policies is getting louder. Recently America Blog began urging people to print out vouchers (see below) and to place the voucher in the red donation bucket in lieu of cash.
Significant anti-lgbt moments in the Salvation Army’s past include:
In 2002 the charity made waves when it announced a policy that would have offered health insurance for a “legally domiciled adult” living with an employee. Essentially granting health benefits for same-sex partners of employees. This policy was reversed after only 2 weeks
In 2003 the Washington Post reported that the Bush administration was working with the Salvation Army in an effort to issue a regulation making it easier for government-funded religious groups to discriminate against gay people in hiring. According to an internal Salvation Army report the Bush White House gave the charity a “firm commitment” to work to protect them from state and city laws that prevent discrimination against gays in hiring and domestic-partner benefits
At the time the Salvation Army spent approximately $100,000 to lobby in favor of President Bush’s faith based initiative. (The Bush administration wound up not working with the Salvation Army on the regulation)
In 2004 the charity threatened to leave New York City if Mayor Michael Bloomberg enforces a new ordinance requiring all groups with city contracts to offer benefits to the same-sex partners of employees. Bloomberg was against the ordinance and did not enforce it.
In June of this year the following passage appeared on the official website of the Australian Salvation Army:
"[Homosexual activity is] as rebellion against God's plan for the created order... Homosexual practice, however, is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable. Such activity is chosen behaviour and is thus a matter of the will. It is therefore able to be directed or restrained in the same way heterosexual urges are controlled. Homosexual practice would render any person ineligible for full membership (soldiership) in the [Salvation] Army."
Dignity Boston marching in the 2012 Boston Pride Parade this past June (photo: Chuck Colbert)
The nation’s largest LGBT Catholic organization, Dignity, has deep New England roots. The Boston chapter marks its four decades with an anniversary dinner this Saturday, December 1.
Note: The following story is adapted from a story that ran in the July/August 2012 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.
By Chuck Colbert
Everybody has a story at Dignity/Boston. And storytelling is one important way that the local LGBT Catholic worshipping community is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its founding and honoring its legacy.
Lourdes Rodríguez-Nogués, for example, moved to Boston from Puerto Rico in 1977 to attend graduate school. “I was looking for a place to worship that was Catholic,” she said. Rodríguez-Nogués found that place on Easter Sunday that year and has been a local chapter and national organization mainstay, having served as chapter president and now president of DignityUSA.
“It was so moving,” she said recently over the telephone, “everybody was friendly.” Rodríguez-Nogués admitted she was “a little anxious” about her first Dignity Mass. “I didn’t talk to anyone, left right away, went straight to my car, and started to cry.” Now “Dignity is my parish church,” she said, “where all my spiritual needs get met, not only going to church on Sundays, but also other needs. ... People know my name and my family,” she continued. “Dignity is a community,” a close-knit group of “people whom I care about, and who care about me.”
Dignity/Boston officially turns 40 this year and the local chapter plans a weekend celebration, including a dinner dance on Saturday, December 1, at the Holiday Inn on Beacon Hill. The next day, during a 5:30 p.m. liturgy, the congregation will celebrate a Catholic Mass, the gathering to be held at the Episcopalian Church of St. John the Evangelist in Boston’s Beacon Hill.
According to a new report released by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Roman Catholic Church spent approximately $2 million in an effort to defeat marriage equality initiatives in the four marriage ballot states of Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington this election cycle. An updated HRC report, available HERE, provides a snapshot of just how much money the Church, along with its close ally the National Organization for Marriage(NOM), poured into campaigns aimed solely at depriving LGBT Americans of dignity and respect.
In Minnesota, the Roman Catholic Church spent upwards of $1.3 million, funding nearly 25 percent of the failed attempts to write discrimination into the state’s constitution. The Church’s funding included hundreds of thousands of dollars from dioceses across the country. The report also highlights the Roman Catholic Church’s donations to states where voters affirmed marriage equality – more than $100,000 in Maine; well over a quarter-million dollars in Maryland; and $307,000 in Washington.
Despite voters rejecting the anti-LGBT agenda financed by the Roman Catholic Church and NOM, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently re-committed to fighting against equality for LGBT Americans. San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone – a leading anti-LGBT voice within the Roman Catholic Church and one of the chief architects of Prop 8 - said the Church must continue funding discrimination because people “don’t understand” marriage.
The report breaks down publicly reported in-kind and cash expenditures from the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the Knights of Columbus, and NOM to the four ballot states. Final campaign figures from Maine and Maryland will be available in the coming weeks.
Earlier this week chaplain John McTernon claimed on his website that Hurricane Sandy was the result of God punishing America for its pro-gay agenda. From McTernon's website:
God is systematically destroying America. Just look at what has happened this year. There was an incredible heat wave and drought that destroyed massive amounts of the crops. This drought has not let up and now covers about 65 percent of the country. The drought triggered record forest fires in the West. The East was not affected by the drought, but now the most powerful hurricane on record is heading directly towards Philadelphia and New York City. It could do catastrophic damage to the entire Northeast! If you add the area of the drought and now the hurricane together, it would be about 80 percent of the country! As I said, the Holy God of Israel is systematically destroying America right before our eyes. Just last August, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans seven years later, on the exact day of Hurricane Katrina. Both hit during the week of the homosexual event called Southern Decadence in New Orleans!
McTernon went on to sate (in response to a comment posted to the article) that
It is not the homosexual community that is the cause, it is the government of the United States making homosexuality an ordinance which is the cause of the judgment. If you commit the act of homosexuality that is between you and God. When a nation promote homosexual "marriage" then it faces God's judgment.
Not to be undone, just yesterday, as reported on RightWingWatch.org, Rabbi Noson Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency, stated on the radio program Crosstalk that "the Great Flood in the time of Noah was triggered by the recognition of same-gender marriages." He went on to say "The Lord will not bring another flood to destroy the entire world but He could punish particular areas with a flood, and if we look at the same-gender marriage recognition movement that's occurring, that certainly is a message for us to learn. We have to learn that the Lord does watch what we do and if we don't shape up He will deliver divine justice."
According to their website,
The Crosstalk Radio Talk Show is heard each weekday on over 90 radio outlets across America and worldwide on the Internet. Crosstalk covers the issues that affect our world, our nation, our families and the Christian church from a perspective centered in the Word of God. Whether we discuss the economy, the political scene, the continuing moral collapse of our nation, legislation that affects the family, or the state of evangelicalism, our authority is found in the unchanging standard of the Holy Scriptures. Veteran co-hosts Dr. Vic Eliason and Jim Schneider have worked as a team for over 20 years to bring solid information to the body of Christ.
Bishop Gene Robinson (photo: Gillian Laub)
Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from a story in the November/December 2012 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.
By Loren King
If ever there was a theologian uniquely qualified to make a case for marriage equality, it’s Gene Robinson, the first openly gay person elected (in 2003) as an Episcopal Church Bishop, serving the Diocese of New Hampshire. A recent documentary about him and a newly released book by him provide new platforms for his message.
The documentary, Love Free or Die, played many film festivals this past year and airs Monday October 29 on PBS Television’s Independent Lens series. This excellent film details Robinson’s life accomplishments and his fight for LGBT people to receive full acceptance in church and state.
In his book God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage (Knopf), Robinson traces his own journey from his upbringing in Kentucky, his conflict over his homosexuality, his 13-year marriage to “Boo” Martin, a woman he genuinely loved, the births of their two children, their divorce, his coming out and his 25-year union with Mark Andrews, whom Robinson married in 2010 when marriage equality came to New Hampshire. Through eleven cogent chapters, Robinson discusses some of the questions routinely used by “religious” people to undermine marriage equality, such as “Doesn’t the Bible Condemn Homosexuality?” and “What’s Wrong with Civil Unions?” In each section, Robinson discusses each issue with reasoned arguments based on his understanding of the Bible, common sense and compassion.
More information on the PBS broadcast of Love Free Or Die can be found here: www.pbs.org/independentlens/love-free-or-die.
More information on the book, God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage, can be found here: www.randomhouse.com/book/215718/god-believes-in-love-by-gene-robinson.
Ready for transgender theology?
Even as religious debates over homosexuality continue, Christian academics have begun working through transgender and intersex (definition below) theological issues. To help address some of the questions, the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, Mass., is sponsoring a panel on the topic tomorrow, Friday, September 7, at 3 p.m., at EDS, where Rev. Dr. Patrick S. Cheng will be moderating a discussion among leading thinkers in the field.
Boston Spirit asked Cheng to provide some context on the topic, to say a little more about how the panel came about, and to address any aspects of the discussion that may be controversial. He e-mailed the following response: