Showing posts with label Religion Acceptance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion Acceptance. Show all posts

January 9, 2017

As He Grew Up Gay in Australia,The Catholic Church was a Heaven

This March, Australian Christians will be able to join a chorus of Catholics, Baptists and beyond asking forgiveness for centuries worth of anti-LGBTQI sins – among those sins, pushing the idea that "non-heterosexual orientations should be treated, healed or changed".
The landmark "sorry" is the effort of a new ecumenical group called Equal Voices, which, as reported by Buzzfeed, ultimately aims to present the apology to Parliament. The group says its mission is to ensure that the church is one "which acknowledges, respects and utilises the gifts of all, regardless of sex, sexuality or gender". Six months after our progressive pontiff told reporters that Catholics should say sorry to gay people, Australians of faith are listening. 
On one level, this is a surprise on the level of "somebody-moved-the-stone!". The church, so often an immovable wall in the fight for same-sex marriage and other rights, is apologising to us? This is, after all, the same coalition of religions that includes George Pell, the anti-Safe Schools Salvos and the Australian Christian Lobby.

And yet the apology comes as no surprise to me. The Christians in my life – those in the pews who don't make, nor seek, headlines – have been some of the most supportive people I've known. Of course they want to say sorry: it's the Christian thing to do.

My parents sent my brothers and me to Catholic schools as part of a common Australian middle-class compromise. They didn't want us going to the local public school, but couldn't afford private school, so they sent us to an institution named for a girl who was burned at the stake two millennia ago. There, we would wear uniforms we didn't like and say prayers we didn't believe in, but we would also be able to learn our times tables in a disciplined environment.

I did well there. I got straight As, was elected captain of both primary and high school, completed my sacraments and often led prayers at assembly and over the PA system. The family never went to church on weekends, but from Monday to Friday I was an evangelistic little Tracy Flick, biro in hand and halo on head.

I was also very gay. I didn't realise this at the time – I was quite late to my own coming-out party – but I already ticked all of the cliche boxes: terrible at footy, excellent at knowing the lyrics to Les Mis songs; Friday nights at an arthouse cinema, Sunday mornings at drama class. And the voice? Julian Clary could have given a more convincing straight-man reading of the Our Father. If my teachers had eyes and ears, they knew I was different. And these same teachers – not members of the clergy, but many of them laypeople of deep faith – were profoundly nurturing of that difference.

One of my earliest memories of school is from year two, in rehearsals for a class show for the weekly assembly. The part called for me to address the crowd, and I mumbled the line quietly in rehearsal, eyes fixed on my polished black Clarks. Miss White was having none of it. She pulled me aside to ask what was wrong. When I told her that I hated my voice, she told me firmly it was a gift not to sound like anyone else. And then she gave me a piece of advice I still use when speaking publicly: "Find a clock on the back wall, and stare at it." 

My school life was peppered with moments like this. Teachers who encouraged me into extracurricular activities for which my differences were an advantage.

And I was always protected. I was in the public speaking team in high school, and in one of my first years there, was asked to deliver a speech to the school. It was six minutes of my not-yet-broken voice from the lectern and jeers from the crowd. By the end, I was pretty shaken up. No teacher ever spoke to me about the incident, as Miss White had done years before, but I later found out someone had spoken to the rest of the year group. I am not sure what was said, but I was never jeered again. ln year 12, when I competed in a national public speaking competition, a chunk of the guys from my year showed up to cheer me on raucously.

Now I am an atheist when things are going well in my life, an agnostic when they aren't, and temporarily Catholic when I have to get up for the Eucharist at a wedding. But I've always liked core Christian values, particularly the simple "golden rule" I was taught back in kindy: "Treat others the way you like to be treated."

I know it's not everyone's story – and I know others whose time at religious schools was far less rosy – but I was able to grow up different and safe and proud because the people around me also subscribed to that idea.

I don't see much of that sentiment when I scan the statements of church leadership when it comes to LGBTQI issues today. But the Equal Voices apology is a reminder of the kinds of Christians who helped shape me growing up. These people put into quiet practice so much of what is beautiful about the religion, and did very little preaching as they went.

As some of them get ready to say sorry this March, I’d like to take a moment to say thank you.

Joel Meares is a Fairfax Media columnist

August 29, 2016

A Pastor’s Son More Important than Empty Words About Love

Drew and Danny Cortez, on a recent visit with StoryCorps in Cypress, Calif.
The Rev. Danny Cortez is a pastor. He also has a son who recently came out as gay. And when his teenage son came out to him in 2014, he did something more than express his support: He decided to talk to his Southern Baptist congregation about it — even though doing so likely meant getting kicked out of the church.
"That morning I came to church, my blood pressure was super high. I felt so much stress, and everyone was wondering what's going on," Cortez recalls, on a recent visit with StoryCorps. "But I remember as I was speaking, I felt empowered like I hadn't felt in such a long time. I knew that what I was sharing that Sunday was important."
What's more, his son Drew was there in the pews to listen.
"I felt vulnerable," Drew says. "I just remember thinking what was going to happen after this. This is our life now."
At the time, Danny told his congregation about the moment his son came out:
"I was driving my son Drew to school, and he turned over to me and he says, 'Dad, I'm gay.' I remember I just turned around and I hugged him so hard. And I said, 'I love you so much, son.' ...
"And so when I was asked a question recently, 'How does it feel to know that you might be terminated in a few weeks?' I said, 'I'm at peace. I'm at peace because I know my heart has been enlarged.' "
"When I sat down," Danny says in his StoryCorps conversation, "I felt like this weight had just been lifted out of me, and people knew where we stood."

At the same time, he says he kept in mind the fact that his son's struggle has been more difficult than this own. Drew, for his part, says he often felt regarded as a problem — even hearing his name paired with the word "abomination" in the same sentence.
"As a father it was so difficult to hear that, because we felt like they didn't know our son," Danny says.
"There's part of me that says, yes, I want to love people that disagree with me, who disagree with us. But the other part of me now is asking, 'But how can I do it in way that honors you?' "
As a result of Danny's sermon, the congregation split. Danny and other members went on to form an LGBT-inclusive, nondenominational church, separate from the Southern Baptist Conference.
Audio produced for Weekend Edition by John White.
StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at

February 29, 2016

Many Gay Evangelicals Are Converting to Stop Wishing to be Straight



THE anti-gay ideology that has long held sway in American evangelicalism seems to be crumbling. Conservatives’ insistence that the Bible proscribes homosexual acts and their claim that protecting gay rights infringes on their own religious liberty have depended on another assumption not found in Scripture: that homosexuality is not a biologically rooted identity but a sinful temptation, an addiction that one must control.

The noisy backlash against the Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage cannot mask the signs that this assumption is losing its grip. The most conspicuous indication that something is changing came in 2013 while Obergefell v. Hodges was still working its way up to the court. Alan Chambers, the president of the “ex-gay” ministry Exodus International, apologized to L.G.B.T. people for causing them “pain and hurt” and shut down his organization. 
Exodus’s collapse was a media spectacle. It was a huge blow to those who insist that same-sex attraction can be “cured,” and an encouragement to the growing number of evangelicals, particularly millennials, who support L.G.B.T. rights. But some young Christians resist the notion that embracing queer sexuality as an identity — not a disease — permits them to embrace homosexual relationships.

These dissenters proudly call themselves gay or queer or bisexual. But they have turned to ideologies outside the conventional boundaries of evangelicalism — including Catholic theology and queer theory — to argue against both conservatives and liberals. They insist that the church should welcome gay people, yet still condemn homosexual acts. They have provoked a dispute that gets to the heart of the culture wars: a debate over the meaning of vocation that reveals the tension between modern assumptions about living a full life and older ideas about the sacrifices God’s calling requires.

Lanira Postell, who attends an evangelical church in Georgia, had relationships with women for years before God “transformed not only my sexuality but my life,” she told me. I expected her to launch into a testimony of her “conversion” from same-sex attraction, but that’s not what happened. “The biggest hurdle I had to jump over was letting go, submitting my full self to the will of God, and in doing that I had to let go of my desire to be straight,” she said. Surrendering to God meant rejecting a black and white binary of sexual identity. “I’m still mentally, emotionally and spiritually attracted to women,” she said, and calls herself “bisexual with celibate same-sex attraction.”

Evangelicals — particularly millennials like Ms. Postell, who is 26 — have absorbed secular thinkers’ ideas about the fluidity of sexual expression. This is, in part, a counterintuitive legacy of traditional ex-gay ministries. When groups like Exodus promised that sexual desire could change, they pioneered queer theory in the evangelical world. Participants often acknowledged their struggles with “relapse,” and their testimonies “point to the instability and changeability of their own identities rather than serve as a testament to heterosexuality,” the ethnographer Tanya Erzen wrote in her study of ex-gay ministries, “Straight to Jesus.” 

Despite coming to terms with her bisexuality, Ms. Postell hopes for heterosexual marriage one day. But for other queer Christians, God demands a life of celibacy. In an era when the right worships the nuclear family and the left celebrates sexual authenticity and gay marriage, celibate gay Christians have no comfortable home on either side of the political spectrum. “There’s little space for them even in Christian queer communities,” said John Bagley, a board member of OneWheaton, a network of L.G.B.T. alumni and allies of Wheaton College, a conservative evangelical school. “Their decision stands as an affront to the decision a lot of people have made.”

Many celibate gay evangelicals look outside the Protestant tradition and reach into ancient history for help in thinking about loneliness and desire. Wesley Hill, an assistant professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Pennsylvania and a celibate gay Christian, told me he draws inspiration from Catholic thinkers like the Dutch priest Henri Nouwen, who was attracted to men.

Dr. Hill left his childhood denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, for the Anglican Communion, which emphasizes its Catholic past and has a monastic tradition. In his most recent book, “Spiritual Friendship,” he followed in the footsteps of historians like John Boswell, who argued that the medieval church was a surprisingly hospitable place for gay Christians. Dr. Hill has called on evangelicals to resurrect the ancient Christian tradition of honoring some same-sex friendships as a holy covenant. Conservatives have reacted with skepticism. “They think it would be a way of smuggling in same-sex erotic attraction, to find an acceptable way of being gay, having a lover,” he told me.

Sarah and Lindsey, a celibate lesbian couple who don’t reveal their last names on their blog “A Queer Calling,” worshiped in Eastern Orthodox churches for several years. They point to the models that non-Protestant church history offers to Christians who don’t fit the hetero-normative mold, like the Beguines, a celibate spiritual movement among Catholic women in medieval Northern Europe. “Words like ‘friend’ and ‘sister’ don’t adequately describe every instance of meaningful relationship between one Beguine woman and another,” they write.

Those who seek to persuade evangelical churches to embrace gay celibacy face an uphill battle, and not only because Martin Luther wrote that “to spurn marriage is to act against God’s calling” and “against nature’s urging.” The idealized image of the heterosexual nuclear family has become the chief conservative rallying point of the culture wars. “Part of why I’ve experienced pain is that I grew up in an evangelical church that elevates the family,” Dr. Hill told me. “You’re told your whole life that it’s the summit of happiness.”

BUT does liberals’ emphasis on gay marriage effectively send the same message? “If you end up accepting the progressive position, you then have a future: Gay people, you’re supposed to get married, have romance, have children, and that’s how you get security and stave off loneliness,” said Eve Tushnet, a celibate Catholic lesbian writer who has a growing following among evangelicals. “But if you don’t change your sexual ethic, then the challenge to your cultural mind-set is very deep because you’re no longer able to offer gay people the forms of adult love that our culture recognizes.” If the ex-gay ministries ironically introduced evangelicals to more fluid ideas of sexuality, the liberal campaign for gay marriage has reinforced the grip of traditional “family values.” 

Like other gay celibate Christians I spoke to, Ms. Tushnet uses the language of vocation to explain why she sticks to a path that denies her the sexual fulfillment that most people consider so fundamental. A vocation is not supposed to be easy. “We see in Scripture that God calls people who are uniquely unsuited for the task that he sets them,” she told me.

The question of vocation is not an intramural theological debate. It reveals the essential source of the culture wars: a breakdown in the American consensus over whose demands we should live to serve, and what it means for humans to flourish.

There is a long history here. The German sociologist Max Weber famously argued that the Puritans laid the groundwork. They reinterpreted the biblical concept of vocation as a calling to fulfill one’s duty in the world, where a successful career would signal God’s favor. “The idea of duty in one’s calling prowls about in our lives like the ghost of dead religious beliefs,” Weber wrote.
But today, even Weber’s attenuated idea of vocation is an alien notion in a culture that commands us to “do what you love” and “marry for love,” a culture that celebrates the satisfaction of sexual desire as a good in and of itself. We often conflate passion and pleasure with duty.

The gay Christians I interviewed stick to an older idea of vocation: the call to obey a higher will that is not your own, one that may leave earthly desires ungratified. The idea of loving God above all else, embracing one’s identity as a “bride of Christ,” is fundamental to Christianity. It is woven into medieval monks’ erotic commentaries on the Song of Songs and saturates the lyrics of modern megachurch music. It is also wholly unintelligible to most secular people — and probably remains elusive even to many Christians. “The idea of this higher love, or that you could have a loving relationship directly with the Eucharist, is so remote from most Americans’ experience of church that it’s not hard to see why it’s unbelievable,” said Ms. Tushnet, the Catholic writer. “Lots of people go through life without ever feeling that internal contact with God in the St. Teresa Bernini sculpture way.”

In an era when gay marriage is legal and a range of gay Christians are modeling different ways to reconcile sexuality and faith, are the decisions of young believers like Lanira Postell still a result of coercion and confused self-hatred? I asked her what she thought about those liberal critics who might think so. “I understand where they’re coming from, that to them what I’m doing doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “That’s why being a Christian is not common. It’s weird. It is unnatural for me to deny myself what I desire, but I do it because of the love of God.”

New York Times

Molly Worthen is the author, most recently, of “Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism,” an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a contributing opinion writer.

December 19, 2015

Pew Research: More Christian Americans are Accepting of LGBT Now More than Ever


More American Christians are accepting LGBT people, even if their churches strongly oppose gay and lesbian relationships, according to a Pew Research Center report of U.S. religious beliefs and practices released Friday. While more non-Christians accept gay relationships than Christians, the number of Christians who say LGBT relationships should be accepted and not discouraged has grown by 10 percentage points since 2007, the study found.

Overall, 54 percent of Christians say gay people should be accepted, compared with 76 percent of non-Christians and 83 percent of religiously unaffiliated people. Across the general U.S. population, 62 percent accept gay relationships, up from 50 percent in 2007. Most churches teach gay relationships are an act of sin or “intrinsically disordered," the Pew study said.

The shift among Christians can be attributed to young church members who generally embrace gay relationships compared with older churchgoers. Only a third of evangelical baby boomers and a fifth of evangelicals in the silent generation say gay people should be accepted by society while 51 percent of evangelical Protestants in the millennial generation were OK with LGBT relationships. The same was true among Catholics, mainline Protestants and members of the historically black Protestant tradition.

But even some older Christians are becoming more accepting of gay relationships. Roughly 32 percent of evangelical Protestant baby boomers, for example, back gay rights, up from 25 percent in 2007.

Not all Christians are shifting their attitudes on gay rights, however. Most Mormons and evangelical Protestants still say homosexuality should be discouraged by society. Jehovah’s Witnesses were perhaps the most fervently opposed to gay relationships, with just 16 percent saying LGBT people should be accepted.

Some gay Christians have argued church opposition to LGBT rights can hurt believers who want to pursue same-sex relationships. Matthew Vines, author of the book "God and the Gay Christian," has argued the Bible does not denounce gays.

"Some modern Bible translations say that 'homosexuals' will not inherit the kingdom of God, but neither the concept nor the word for people with exclusive same-sex attraction existed before the late 19th century. While the Bible rejects lustful same-sex behavior, that’s very different from a condemnation of all gay people and relationships,” he wrote last year.


October 21, 2015

Mormon Leader Chides Clerk Kim Davis


The Mormon Church has been among the most vocal in expressing worry that the expanded rights of LGBT people — among other liberalizing changes in the United States — are trumping those of religious Americans who may disagree with gay equality. On Tuesday, the church offered its first high-level comments on perhaps the most contentious case in that realm, saying through a top leader that Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis erred and that more balance, tolerance and civility are needed when it comes to protecting religious freedom.

Dallin Oaks, a member of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, laid out what should be seen as the church’s official view in a lecture Tuesday to the Sacramento Court-Clergy Conference, an event sponsored by Sacramento area judges and the Sacramento Superior Court. Oaks was a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, a prosecutor in Illinois and a Utah state Supreme Court justice.

[Here is a link to Oaks’ lecture]

Oaks’s talk, called “The Boundary Between Church and State,” echoes in its conciliatory tone other recent efforts by the Mormon Church on this topic, including a compromise the church and its allies worked out in Utah with gay rights advocates earlier this year.

The talk reflects the Mormon Church’s desire not to be associated with divisive culture wars, particularly after it became highly involved in fighting gay marriage in California in the late 2000s and took a serious public relations bruising for it, in part by Mormons who didn’t want to see their church so intertwined with politics.

It also shows the way the Davis’s case is bringing out the nuances among the religious liberty crowd. The movement, with religious conservatives as its most vocal proponents, can seem monolithic, but divisions over the Davis case revealed different views and strategies. Some prominent religious freedom advocates said Davis had gone too far in refusing not only to issue marriage licenses to gay couples but in barring her staff from doing so as well.

The Vatican took pains after Pope Francis met with Davis last month during his U.S. trip — a visit that triggered huge controversy — to clarify the meeting. It “should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” the Vatican statement read.

[Mormons, LGBT advocates make news with compromise on gay/religious rights]

While some prominent figures in the religious liberty movement — including the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — had spoken sympathetically of Davis, other notable figures were silent, or said she had gone beyond the bounds of her rights.

Paul Edwards, editor of the Mormon Church-owned Deseret News, a major Utah news source, said Mormons and others will take note at a prominent player in the religious liberty scene saying “we do see boundaries. Some may have misinterpreted a strong support for quote-unquote religious liberty as being obstructionist.” The Church, he said “plays a catalyzing role in religious liberty circles.”

The talk urged compromise and mutual respect. Both sides should seek balance, “not total victory,” Oaks said. “It will help if we are not led or unduly influenced by extreme voices that are heard from contending positions.”

“There should be no adversariness between believers and non-believers, and there should be no belligerence between religion and government. These two realms should have a mutually supportive relationship,” he said, according to a transcript.

“I reject the idea of a wall between church and state. The more appropriate metaphor to express that relation—reinforced by various decisions of the United States Supreme Court—is a curtain that defines boundaries but is not a barrier to the passage of light and love and mutual support from one side to another,” he said.

On the Davis case, Oaks said public officials “take an oath to support the constitution and laws of their jurisdiction. That oath does not leave them free to use their official position to further their personal beliefs— religious or otherwise—to override the law.” However, Edwards noted, Oaks said it was a “far more significant violation of the rule of law” when governors or attorney generals refuse to enforce a law with which they disagree, either on secular or religious grounds.

This was, Edwards said, “a not-so-subtle jab” at President Obama and some state officials who refused to defend their own marriage laws when those laws discriminated against gay couples. Oaks’s “principle cuts against culture warriors on all sides,” he said. 

August 29, 2015

Pope Francis Backs Opposed LGBT Children’s Book Writer in Italy

Pope Francis has expressed solidarity to an Italian author and LGBT activist whose work
was recently banned by the conservative mayor of Venice over its purported seditious
content in favour of gay rights. Francesca Pardi said she has received a written reply
from the pontiff
to a letter she sent earlier this summer, complaining about the continuous attacks she
received from hard-line Catholics. The writer had become a target of campaigners
against same-sex-marriage, after she created an independent publishing house
 printing children's books that also depict gay couples.
Earlier this summer, several of her titles – including the award-winning book Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg), the tale of a lonely egg who meets straight and gay animal couples in its quest for a family – were listed among 49 publications ordered for removal from public libraries by Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro, who said they corrupted the local youth. After an international outcry the list was reduced to two books, the subversive Piccolo Uovo being one of them.

In June, Pardi – who has four children with her partner, Maria Silvia Fiengo – wrote to the Pope to denounce what she said was a hate campaign launched against her family by Catholic associations. She also attached a copy of Piccolo Uovo, inviting Francis to read it. The Argentinian pontiff replied with a letter in his named written by Peter B Wells, the assessor for general affairs at the Vatican secretariat of state.

"His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings that prompted it, hoping for an always more productive activity in the service of young generations and the spread of true human and Christian values," the letter read. It also contained Francis' personal blessing to Pardi and her partner. Pardi published its contents on Facebook, causing a stir in Italy.

"I was very touched by it," Pardi told IBTimes UK. She explained that the letter was not supportive of gay rights but nevertheless marked an important change in the Church attitude towards homosexuals. "Obviously he [Francis] doesn't agree with homosexuality and if he ever was to make such an opening he would never do so in a private letter to me!" she said. "However, only to consider me as an interlocutor worth respect is a tremendous step forward. I read it as an opening towards people and dialogue, a message of tolerance.”

Later, the Vatican said the Pontiff's secretariat routinely replied to mail, adding that under no circumstances was the letter received by Pardi intended to endorse behaviours inconsistent with Catholic teachings.

Piccolo Uovo
The cover of award-winning children's book Piccolo Uovo, by Francesca Pardi

The letter came as the Pope faces a revolt from the conservative fringes of the Catholic Church over his open stance towards gay people. Five cardinals and more than 100 bishops were among the signatories of a worldwide petition urging the pontiff to clearly voice his and the Vatican’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

Pope Francis letter to LGBT author
The envelope of a letter sent by Pope Francis to writer Francesc
“This prayerful petition asks Pope Francis to clear up the moral confusion that’s been spreading against Natural and Divine Law,” said John Ritchie, director of Tradition Family Property Student Action group.

  Francis expressed approval for gay marriage but has steered the Holy See in the direction of a more tolerant position, maintaining that homosexuals should be integrated and not marginalized with his famous "who am I to judge?"
The letter also fueled Italy's heated debate over gay rights ignited by a recent
government pledge to introduce a law on civil unions. The Mediterranean country
is currently the only
one in western Europe not to have any such regulation and thus considering same-sex marriage illegal. 
Umberto Bacchi

July 2, 2015

Episcopalians Vote For Gay Marriage but Why Did They Kicked out Bill First?


 This is me [Adam] with Mariah on the right next to me as always, Bear center by the Privacy fence. Bill and I
 Constructed it dividing his Grand ma and our house. The fence was built as a compromise for not moving out. It took Bill and I a week or so. Me with my bad back and Bill with his problems. Getting sick in silent after the fence I realized that if I were to get sick, there would not even be a home to come back to. I was half right when Bill with his fam. eventually got an order of Protection. When I went to pick my things out for good, Bill cried not to leave him with his religious grandmother looking on like a gestapo guard, examining I only took my stuff or that we did not made up or go too chummy.  As a matter of fact I left all the big items, they would not fit in the truck. I told Bill not to contact me but only to save him grief from his fam. We kissed in front of grandma in the mouth for a while. Bill was openly crying had lost weight looked bad. My heart was in
 pieces but I had to get to NYC my mom had a stroke, my only confessor, defender and love of my life was dying and Im on i95 rushing to NYC. I lost my house, thousands of dollars and even my dog. But most of all 9  months latter I lost my mom. I died that same day.
The telephone rang and Bill picked up. Bill was my partner of two years. Ten years younger than I but had the courage to come out and stand up to his homophobic family. Im sure that had he never met me he would have stayed openly in the closet; Which means he was doing everything a gay men does but it was excused as something else.  
 The family having their heads in the sand felt very comfortable there. Bill coming out had to do with me and his coming out would mean that our relationship would end. He came out partly because of me. Having being ‘out’ most of my adult time up to that time, I was too concentrated in NOT having people sending me back. I felt I was surrounded by the bandits and had good reason to believe it, so I hunkered in. Having Been told that I made Bill gay to, “I was dirty” because gay and black people are dirty just like black don’t even perspire.” yeah that is a red neck southerner speaking. Good people in other ways but with a phobia about people different from them, they are heartless. Their minds shut off.

Bill would have been different from his family even if he wasn’t gay. Good hearted but he could not go against his family every single day and that is how it was. He had promised me we would moved away but I don’t think he meant and it was the lie that I would hold him to and it meant our relationship would end.  

On that day the person on the other side of the phone was his Pastor of his Episcopalian congregation. The Pastor wanted to know if it was true what he heard. Was he gay? On Bill positive answer he told him right over the phone to consider himself no longer a member of his church. The Pastor and I had a Biblical confrontation latter on after I called him a coward and that Bill was entitled to a trial. Even having lost and having admitted that we had many things right in interpreting the bible and “homosexuals” still the church did not have to have a member they did not want and he was merely a messenger of the wishes of the church. I had never heard a pastor put it that way but the meaning was clear: Bill was not wanted anymore if he was gay.

Bill and I don’t  keep in touch mainly to do with Bill’s first, because of my wishes but then because we can not reconcile that Bill would not move and I could not live with him there. We loved each other very much and we both ahead so many tears but those were the realities. 

Today after all these years the Episcopalian church changes. It doesn’t mean that a Church in Mid Florida its change, I hope so but at the same time they could be as homophobic as ever. I hope not. I hope that Bill and I behind him broked the homophobic chains subjugating human being to hate because of what people are as people.
Adam Gonzalez [ Blog Publisher and Protestant Independent Seminary student , 3 yr. Graduate, Thinker when my mind functions and anti all religions but open to people to have what ever faith as long was it does not discriminate based on what people are as people]

  News on Episcopalians today. A Vote for gay Marriage!                                                       

Episcopalians overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples, solidifying the church's embrace of gay rights that began more than a decade ago with the pioneering election of the first openly gay bishop.
The vote came in Salt Lake City at the Episcopal General Convention, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. It passed in the House of Deputies, the voting body of clergy and lay participants at the meeting. The House of Bishops had approved the resolution Tuesday by 129-26 with five abstaining.
The Very Rev. Brian Baker of Sacramento said the church rule change was the result of a nearly four-decade long conversation that has been difficult and painful for many. Baker, chair of the committee that crafted the changes, said church members have not always been kind to one another but that the dynamic has changed in recent decades.
"We have learned to not only care for, but care about one other," Baker said. "That mutual care was present in the conversations we had. Some people disagreed, some people disagreed deeply, but we prayed and we listened and we came up with compromises that we believe make room and leave no one behind."
Baker said the denomination's House of Bishops prayed and debated the issue for five hours earlier this week before passing it on to the House of Deputies.
During debate on Wednesday, several deputies spoke in support of the move, with some saying it was long overdue. Opponents spoke too, including Jose Luis Mendoza-Barahona of Honduras, who gave an impassioned speech in Spanish against the change, saying it goes against the biblical basis of the church and would create a chasm in the church.
The vote eliminates gender-specific language from church laws on marriage so that same-sex couples could have religious weddings. Instead of "husband" and "wife," for example, the new church law will refer to "the couple." Under the new rules, clergy can decline to perform the ceremonies. The changes were approved 173-27. The convention also approved a gender-neutral prayer service for marriage on a 184-23 vote.
The measures take effect the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 29.
Many dioceses in the New York-based church of nearly 1.9 million members have allowed their priests to perform civil same-sex weddings, using a trial prayer service to bless the couple. Still, the church hadn't changed its own laws on marriage until Wednesday.
The Episcopal Church joins two other mainline Protestant groups that allow gay marriage in all their congregations: the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The 3.8-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lets its congregations decide for themselves, and many of them host gay weddings.
The United Methodist Church, by far the largest mainline Protestant church with 12.8 million members, bars gay marriage, although many of its clergy have been officiating at same-sex weddings recently in protest.
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. wing of the Anglican Communion, an 80 million-member global fellowship of churches. Ties among Anglicans have been strained since Episcopalians in 2003 elected Bishop Gene Robinson, who lived openly with his male partner, to lead the Diocese of New Hampshire.
On the eve of the U.S. vote, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, issued a statement expressing deep concern about the move to change the definition of marriage.
Faith groups across the spectrum of belief, from the Episcopal Church to the Southern Baptists, have been losing members as more Americans say they identify with no particular religion. The Episcopal Church has shrunk 18 percent over the last decade, after more than a generation of steady decline.
After the Supreme Court ruling last week, many conservative churches, including the Southern Baptists and the Mormons, renewed their opposition to gay marriage.
The gay marriage decision is the second major news to come from the convention, the top policymaking body of the church. The church elected its first black presiding bishop last weekend, with Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina winning in a landslide.
Curry has allowed same-sex church weddings in North Carolina, and he said the Supreme Court "affirmed the authenticity of love" by legalizing gay marriage.
McCombs reported from Salt Lake City. AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll reported from New York for Associated Press

June 29, 2015

American Muslims Celebrate Gay Victory at Ramadan

Often thought of as unremittingly hostile to homosexuality, some American Muslims celebrated Friday’s Supreme Court decision and chided their co-religionists who said judgment day was nigh.

Mu’min Marcos Arquero Castenada is an openly gay Muslim fasting in this Islamic holy month of Ramadan. He ululated when he heard the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage nationwide on Friday, then he went to his Oakland mosque to do his Friday prayers in celebration.
The Sufi sheikh at Masjid Al Iman mosque welcomed Castenada with open arms, he said. The Filipino-American says he sees no contradiction between his faith and homosexuality, although homosexuality is illegal on religious principles in several Muslim countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“My experience of Allah (God) is so deep and meaningful,” said Castenada, a family and marriage therapist. “There are many things we are still discovering in Islam.”
But many Muslims on social media lashed out, bashing Friday’s Supreme Court decision and saying qiyamah, the day of judgment, was near while the story of Lot condemning homosexuality in holy scriptures, including the Quran, is being ignored. Commentators and atheists Bill Maher and Sam Harris have criticized Muslims for failing to accept homosexuality as a human right.

One of Haji’s characters in her first novel, The Writing on My Forehead, is a gay Muslim. She said the best fan mail she received was from closeted gay Muslim who thanked her for his presence in the book.

Other practicing American Muslims said government and religion should stay separate, and because marriage was a legal institution, religion should not intervene.
Hawa Fana, a mother of two girls who was born in Afghanistan, said she doesn’t approve of the gay lifestyle but thinks marriage is a human right and religion should not meddle in state affairs.
“It is quite sad to see so many negative comments,” said the Fremont, Calif., resident. “Religious morals should not be the law of the land. Religious beliefs of one person should not be put upon the shoulders of those who don’t follow that faith. This is a matter of human rights. Follow your faith, don’t force its laws upon others. Just because homosexuals can marry does not mean qiyamah is upon us.”

The debate on whether Islam allows homosexuality is hotly contested among American Muslims.
Ahmed Ansari, a technical consultant in Los Angeles, said the scriptures can be interpreted in various ways and as a Muslim, he sees no conflict between his faith and homosexuality. “With any scripture, the believer decides how to interpret it, and it is the malleability of religion that affords me that right to interpret these actions through my own moral lens.”
Gay marriage should’ve been legalized long ago, he said.

Ansari congratulated his lesbian boss when he heard the news and said he was going out to play volleyball on the beach with gay friends after work.
Gay Muslims were relieved and excited to hear others Muslims supporting the Supreme Court decision. This acceptance was a welcome change in a community that often shuns them. Some gays leave the faith as a result.

Nemat Sadat, a gay Afghan-American and LGBT activist in New York, said he couldn’t reconcile his religion and sexuality so he calls himself an ex-Muslim. But he’s keen to continue fighting for gay rights among Muslims worldwide.
“The Supreme Court decision gives me solid footing to continue my campaign for universal human rights,” he said. “Before today’s decision, I felt it was an uphill battle but now I feel a mountain of support behind me … that America has taken decisive action on the most pivotal cultural issue of our lifetime.”

Fariba Nawa
Fariba Nawa
Daily Beast

May 29, 2015

Why Catholics Unlike the Hierarchy of the Church Support Gay Marriage?


Last weekend, Ireland overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment legalizing same-sex marriage, the first country in the world to do so by popular vote. The reaction invariably included some degree of shock that a country about 85 percent Roman Catholic would embrace marriage equality. Well, the Irish Catholics aren't alone.
Much to the Vatican's evident chagrin, majorities of Catholics all over the West support same-sex marriage, often at higher rates than other Christian denominations. In majority-Protestant Northern Ireland, the provincial Assembly has refused to join the rest of the United Kingdom in allowing same-sex marriage — most recently in January — and First Minister Peter Robinson recently agreed with his wife that homosexuality is “an abomination."

In the U.S., a 2014 Pew poll found that 57 percent of Catholics support gay marriage, including 75 percent of Catholics age 18 to 29 and even 45 percent of regular churchgoers. (In the same survey, 70 percent of Catholics said homosexuality should be accepted, including 60 percent of weekly churchgoers.)
In April, a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found support for gay marriage among U.S. Catholics at 60 percent, close to the 62 percent among white mainline Protestants — most of whose churches now allow same-sex marriages. That's a stark contrast to the 66 percent of white evangelical Protestants who oppose same-sex marriage (generally in line with their churches' stances).
So what’s going on with Catholics? 

"Throughout the world, the Roman Catholic Church has made opposition to gay marriage its hallmark for the past few years," notes Rev. Paul F. Morrissey, a Catholic priest writing at USA Today. But he essentially agrees with The Week's Damon Linker, arguing that, paradoxically, the Irish voted in gay marriage "precisely because Ireland is so overwhelmingly Catholic."
That may sound batty, but Fr. Morrissey's argument is twofold. The first has to do with the erosion of credibility on sexual matters in the Irish Catholic hierarchy, after years of revelations about covered-up child sexual abuse and other horrible sins. Because of the sex abuse, especially, he writes, "what the Church teaches about sexuality is rejected almost as a duty." He is talking about Ireland, but the same could be said of the Catholic episcopacy in the U.S. and many other Western nations.

Morrissey's second point has to do with Catholic teachings on marriage, and the abiding Irish "faith in God, which is bigger and deeper than the Catholic Church":
Because the Irish have been brought up by the Catholic Church to view marriage as a sacrament is the reason they can shift sideways to see a same-sex relationship in the same God-blessed way. Because marriage is a beautiful commitment of love, taught to them by the Church, is why the Irish can make the connection to two people of the same sex loving each other with a similar commitment. It is the love commitment they value, and have come to see in their friends and family members who are gay and lesbian as well.... It doesn't matter who the partners are — "I promise to love you all the days of my life, so help me God." [USA Today]

Mo Moulton at The Atlantic cites the Catholic Church's emphasis on the family, arguing that "the brand of gay equality that's developing in Ireland right now deserves broader attention" in the larger Catholic world.
"It takes the traditional social teaching of the 20th century Catholic Church, with its emphasis on family ties and community cohesion, and reinterprets it for a 21st century in which many don't view sex not aimed at reproduction as a sin," she writes. "If Pope Francis's recent efforts to shift the Vatican's focus away from homosexuality, abortion, and contraception, and toward the support of families and the alleviation of poverty, echo these Irish trends, I suspect it's not entirely a coincidence."
If Catholic social teachings and emphasis on families — mixed with a broadening understanding of family — and community are part of the explanation, they aren't the only ones. In 2012, Jamie Manson at the National Catholic Reporter focused on the theological component, attributing the outsize Catholic support for gay marriage to “the Catholic imagination," or "Catholic sacramental view of the world."

In the Protestant Christian tradition started by John Calvin, "human beings are totally depraved and enslaved to sin," Manson summarized. "God saves human beings in spite of who they are, not because of any intrinsic goodness or merit that they have," and salvation is preordained by God.
Catholic theology teaches a different relationship between God and humanity, in which "grace perfects nature," she wrote. "Yes, human beings are a mess, and we're born into a very messy world. But because we are created by God and because everything God creates is good, there is intrinsic goodness in us." What does that have to do with gay marriage? Manson explained:
Those who possess a sacramental view of the world often realize that any human person or relationship that brings love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, generosity, or faithfulness into the world is a sign of God's grace.... They have recognized these graces can come forth as much through same-sex couples as heterosexual couples. Those who have a Catholic imagination recognize that a couple's ability to enter into a marriage commitment is not contingent on their anatomies, but on the depth, strength, and fruitfulness of their bond. [National Catholic Reporter]

E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post puts that more succinctly: "For advocates of gay marriage, the issue is about the equal dignity of human beings — a thoroughly Christian principle — far more than it is about a particular view of sexual morality."
Whatever the reasons, the dissonance between the Catholic faithful and the Catholic hierarchy poses a big challenge for church leaders. And it should probably look less like Cardinal Pietro Parolin's characterization of Ireland's referendum as "a defeat for humanity" and more like Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's recognition that this is "a social revolution" and "a reality check across the board" for the Catholic Church. Martin continued:

We tend to think in black and white but most of us live in the area of grey, and if the church has a harsh teaching, it seems to be condemning those who are not in line with it. But all of us live in the grey area. All of us fail. All of us are intolerant. All of us make mistakes. All of us sin and all of us pick ourselves up again with the help of that institution which should be there to do that. The church's teaching, if it isn't expressed in terms of love — then it's got it wrong. [Martin, to RTÉ News]
The big question for Pope Francis and the Catholic Church is whether the tone — focusing on gay sex rather than all extramarital, non-procreative sex, or any other Catholic-recognized sins (like greed) — is wrong or the teaching. The Catholic body, at least in the West, seems to have made up its mind. Your move, bishops.

Peter Weber

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