Showing posts with label Church. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Church. Show all posts

January 15, 2017

Anti Gay, Alleged Church Male Molester, Bishop Eddie Long Dies,63



 Eddie Long New Birth Missionary Mega Church

Bishop Eddie Long, the controversial (alleged young male sex molester) Georgia-based head of one of the nation’s largest mega churches, has died. He was 63.

Long died after a battle with an aggressive form of cancer, according to a statement by the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
  
At its peak New Birth Missionary Baptist Church had about 25,000 members going around the world preaching homophobia and change through prayer as they preached the gospel.

Long had a controversial past. In 2010, he and his church settled a lawsuit filed by four young men who accused him of pressuring them into sexual relationships while they were teenagers and members of his congregation. Long Settled and paid the young men to keep the case going to trial.

Long, who preached passionately against homosexuality for years, denied the allegations.
In 2011, Vanessa Long filed for divorce. Shortly afterward, Long told his followers he was taking some time off to work on his marriage.

“I do want you to know that this is, for me and my family, especially with me, one of the most difficult times and things I've had to face, and only because my strength, other than God, is in Miss Vanessa," he said at the time.

"And I want you to rest assured that I love her and she loves me. ... In all the things that I've ever had to deal with and being pastor, my rock has been to be able to come home to a virtuous woman who always had peace in my house... We’re going (to) work it out." he said.

In its statement the church called him "a family man and spiritual leader who was well respected and loved for his passion to unapologetically and courageously preach the gospel of Jesus Christ."
The couple later reconciled.

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

November 3, 2016

Black Church In Mississippi Burnt in the Name of Trump





 
A black church in Greenville, Mississippi, was set on fire on Tuesday night. Fire fighters arrived to find Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church “heavily engulfed in flames,” Mayor Errick Simmons said in an interview;  the fire took nearly an hour to contain. No one was in the church at the time, and no one was injured. On the side of the church, beneath the blackened windows and roof, the words “Vote Trump” have been spray painted.

The fire is being investigated as a hate crime, Simmons said. Federal authorities, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives, are helping local authorities with the investigation, which is part of the standard procedure for church fires. “We’re very cautious in this climate, in this day and time, to make sure we’re very deliberate in investigating matters like this,” Simmons said. This fire was “a direct assault on people’s right to free worship,” he said, and later added during a press conference, “I see this as an attack on the black church and the black community.”
  
In September, Simmons said, city officials found the word “nigger” painted on a boat front down by Greenville’s levee on the Mississippi River. The 34,000-person city is predominantly black, and while there is “a concerted, intentional effort for racial reconciliation among the races” in Greenville, he said, there have also been “cowardly acts of folks doing something.” In the days leading up to the election, the city will be placing additional patrols around all places of worship.

By and large, Simmons said, he expects the people of Greenville and the surrounding county of Washington will support Hillary Clinton.

Arson is notoriously difficult to prove. Last summer, when a spate of fires took place at black churches in South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and elsewhere, investigators looked into whether they were religiously or racially motivated crimes—if the fires were intentionally set at all. Unless someone leaves “you a message in some way that makes it very obvious,” a staffer for the National Fire Protection Association told me at the time, it’s hard to know whether or not a burning was motivated by hate.

In this case, though, someone left a calling card about politics. It’s not yet clear who set the fire, if anyone set it; whether the person who set the fire is the same person who wrote the graffiti; or why, if the fire was intentional, Hopewell M.B. Church was the target. One thing is clear, though: At some point, someone decided to attach the name of Trump to a burned black church.

This act comes with heavy symbolism in the United States. Black churches have long been burned in acts of intimidation and hatred; in the Jim Crow South, members of hate groups would leave flaming crosses on churchyard lawns. The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, came at a time of extreme racial division in the United States; it was that crime, which killed four young black girls, that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “The black church has always been a symbol of the community,” Simmons said during a press conference. When he met congregants in Hopewell M.B. Church on Tuesday night, “I talked to folks who were fearful. I talked to folks who were  intimidated. And quite frankly, [they] were saddened and crying,” he said. “That should not happen in 2016. It happened in the ’50s. It happened in the ’60s. But it should not happen in 2016.”

Less than a week away from Election Day, America is having to contend with violence. Trump supporters, including some white nationalists, are allegedly planning to monitor polls, especially in places with large populations of black voters, and local political parties have already reported incidents of harassment. This month, a local Republican political office in Hillsborough, North Carolina, was firebombed, with the message “Nazi Republicans leave town or else” spray painted on a building nearby.

This is a tense time in American politics. The burning of Hopewell M.B. Church is a sign of how bad things have gotten, and what may be still to come. “What we have to do is come together,” Simmons said. “The only thing that conquers hate is love.”

October 19, 2016

Church Reorientation Prog Could Not Change Me,Ultimately Throwing Me Out




 I began attending Watermark Community Church around five years ago, after a girl I was dating invited me to a young adults ministry. The pastor on stage was open and authentic about his life and "struggles with sin." This instilled a sense of comfort within me because of all of the things I was hiding about myself,
I began attending weekly services and volunteering as much as I could. I attended training sessions and read through my Bible.

About six months in, I met a man who has become a dear friend. He shared with me that he was gay and trying to change his orientation to heterosexuality, and he encouraged me to open up to several others. I connected with programs designed to help gay church members, spent time with the gay success stories at Watermark, and read books about how to change my orientation.

It soon became very obvious that I would not be able to change my attraction to other men. I came to realize that, according to Watermark, God was expecting me to be single for the rest of my life, and I became comfortable with that idea. I was so sure of myself that when I moved in with one of my close guy friends, we shared a bunk bed. I felt that I was not alone even though I was single; I was happy to have a tight church group around me. I began sharing my story at church with others. (Start listening at 43:38).

Then, what seemed like all at once, more than half of my group started dating and quickly got married, my bunkmate included. I realized what it meant to face the prospect of being alone for the rest of my life. I couldn't expect my friends to avoid falling in love on the account of me.
Naturally, I rebelled a bit. I joined a gay volleyball league, met other gay people and even began to date a bit. These were not horrible, disgusting people, as I had been led to believe. These were some of the most caring and loving people I'd ever met, and finally, I was not alone. I discovered that many of my new friend, like me, had been wounded by the church.

Back at Watermark, my new community group urged me to quit hanging out with the gay volleyball crowd and urged me to attend Watermark's 12-step program to overcome homosexuality, or "struggles," as they put it. So I did.

Once again, I felt hopeful that God would come in and save the day and remove my "struggles." Then, I began to hate myself. I wanted so badly to change and yet, nothing came. I never felt so alone, sad and angry with God. Why wouldn’t he help me?

For my own safety, I quit the program halfway through. I started dating a guy shortly after. I experienced so many feelings that I had only heard about from straight friends. I remember waiting by the phone for him to text and looking forward to hearing how his day went. Even the most boring aspects of our relationship were exciting, and I realized these are the feelings they’d been talking about.

About six months into our relationship, my small group pushed hard for me to break up with him. I tried to convince myself I had other reasons to end the relationship; soon, I made these demands a reality. I became physically ill at the decision I made. I couldn't sleep, think, or do anything without crying. We decided to get back together a week later; I never should have done what I did and I knew it in my heart.


The group brought in church leadership due to my "rebellion." Nine of them sat in a half circle across the room from me. They interrupted me, talked down to me, and accused me of not giving effort. And they removed me out from official church membership.
After getting kicked out, I was picked up by a couple of gay friends that I met at Watermark who'd also left or been pushed out the door. We are now a growing group of people connected to the Gay Christian Network.

There are so many gay people who have been deeply hurt by the church. It is not uncommon to hear of suicide attempts from people who went through these similar experiences. We are people, we have feelings, desires, and morals just like everyone else. We desire to be loved just like everyone else. We deserve to be loved just like everyone else.

Watermark revoked my membership based on their reading of Matthew 18:15-18, where Jesus lays out a process for handling sin within a group. This passage begins: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault."
But translations of this passage vary. Some say say: "If your brother sins" and some say, "if your brother sins against you."
One of these gives you permission to hold anyone accountable to any sin. The other is talking about reconciliation. So, which one is correct? We don’t really know.
Watermark elders sent Jason Thomas a letter revoking his official membership with the church.
Later in the chapter, verse 21 provides some color: "Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 

Jason Thomas , Contributor[Twitter: @Jason1TM]

September 3, 2016

NYT Leaked Trump’s Prepared Answers for Black Church Interview



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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who lags far behind Hillary Clinton in African American support, will have some scripted answers to rely on for an interview he’s taping with a black pastor Saturday in his first public appearance before a majority black audience in Detroit.
The New York Times obtained a leaked 8-page script prepared by his campaign that has answers to the 12 questions Bishop Wayne T. Jackson will ask Trump when the candidate pays a visit to Detroit’s Great Faith Ministries International. Trump will sit down for a closed-door session with the pastor, and the interview is expected to air several days later on the Impact Network, Jackson’s cable television channel on the Christian faith. 
The interview questions, the Times reported, range from Trump’s relationship with God to views among African American voters that the Republican party can be racist. 
The prepared responses are a departure from Trump’s usual diatribes on rival Hillary Clinton’s “bigotry” and negative impacts on black communities. 
Instead, Trump is expected to offer up his own optimistic vision for race relations under his administration.  “If we are to make America great again, we must reduce, rather than highlight, issues of race in this country,” Trump is expected to say. “I want to make race disappear as a factor in government and governance.”
To another question posed by Bishop Jackson on whether Trump’s campaign is racist, the candidate is advised not to repeat the word. 
“The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding,” the script says. “Coming into a community is meaningless unless we offer an alternative to the horrible progressive agenda that has perpetuated a permanent underclass in America.” 
And in addressing undecided black voters, the Times noted the script cleaves close to Trump’s usual rhetoric: “If you want a strong partner in this journey, you will vote for me. I will never let you down...By the way, my support is now up to 8 percent and climbing.”
Trump, who has also struggled with answering questions about his faith, is also getting coached on his views about God. 
When the candidate is asked “Are you a Christian and do you believe the Bible is an inspired word of God?” the script offers this response from Trump: “As I went through my life, things got busy with business, but my family kept me grounded to the truth and the word of God...I treasure my relationship with my family, and through them, I have a strong faith enriched by an ever-wonderful God.”
While in Detroit, Trump will attend a two-hour church service and is also expected to address the Great Faith Ministries congregation for a few minutes. According to the Times, he will also spend about 30 minutes mingling with church members.

 REENA FLORES CBS NEWS

Pastor of Church Trump Will Visit Today is Being Called a Judas


The pastor who will interview Donald Trump at a black Detroit church on Saturday is responding to a deluge of criticism from people unhappy about the GOP presidential nominee's visit.


In a series of interviews and social media posts over the past week, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson has defended his decision to invite Trump to his church and to be interviewed on Jackson’s television channel, Impact Network.

"This interview is not an endorsement,” Jackson wrote on Facebook this week. "This is engagement. We have given Hillary Clinton the same opportunity as Donald Trump and she has not yet responded. This is not to put one up above the other but you gotta understand that we are in a race, and there’s two people in the race. This is to inform our community of what he will do if elected."

It seems many of Jackson’s followers are not convinced. On Friday, his social media team warned on Facebook that it would be removing comments that resort to name-calling or use foul language.

But plenty of comments from unhappy users can still be seen on the page.

On Thursday, The New York Times reported that aides at the Republican National Committee and in Trump’s campaign had written an eight-page script detailing how the businessman should respond to a dozen questions that Jackson had submitted in advance.

“With all respect I ask you to please refuse to participate in the Trump ‘interview’ unless you are allowed to ask some unscripted questions,” read one comment from a man named Michael Bradley. “Otherwise I would see it as a sham, nothing more than a campaign advertisement and not an interview in any way.”

“That's incredible that you would ask everybody on here to be respectful and civil when you are interviewing someone who never display that,” Kerry Hill said in response to the warning that asked users to refrain from name-calling.

Other inflammatory comments call Jackson “a spawn of the devil,” accuse him of being paid off by Trump and label the event propaganda.

Jackson himself has acknowledged that the candidate tends to evoke anger among black voters — a recent Public Policy Polling survey showed Trump had zero percent support among African Americans.

“There’s a lot of emotions going on right now — people are upset that he’s coming to Detroit,” Jackson told The Detroit News this week. “But if we don’t sit down to talk to him, we’ll never know what his policies are.”

Still, Jackson maintains that by interviewing Trump on his Impact Network, he is helping to inform his viewers. He also says that the candidate has a right to make his case to black voters.

“We’re not here to say we agree,” the bishop wrote in another Facebook post. “We’re here to listen. A person who committed murder, killed a child, whatever it may be, we still give them a right in our nation to be heard. We need to hear both sides.”

“My phone has been burning up,” Jackson told the Detroit Free Press. “And the things people are asking: ‘Is Donald Trump paying me off?’ They haven’t paid me off. You haven’t looked at me and seen a man who’s needed things, I’ve always been blessed. It’s not about being a Judas to my people.”

Trump's visit to Jackson’s church, Great Faith Ministries, was first announced Aug. 28 in a statement by Pastor Mark Burns, a Trump surrogate who a day later set off a firestorm by tweeting a cartoon of Democrat Hillary Clinton in blackface. Burns has his own show on the Impact Network.

Jackson had said in interviews this week that he planned to ask Trump if there’s any truth to the accusations of racism that have plagued his campaign for more than a year. The leaked script shows that Jackson will also ask how Trump can change black voters’ mistrust of the GOP, given that Republican candidates rarely appear in black communities.

“The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding,” reads Trump’s scripted answer. “Coming into a community is meaningless unless we can offer an alternative to the horrible progressive agenda that has perpetuated a permanent underclass in America.”
The Clinton campaign slammed Trump for the prepared script, saying that the fact that his team feels the need to provide him with a script shows that he is unfamiliar with the issues important to black voters and uncomfortable discussing them.

“Donald Trump's latest gimmick to act as if he cares about the black community is downright shameful, insulting and cowardly,” Clinton aide Marlon Marshall said in a statement.

“After 14 months of neglecting us, Donald Trump is once again dodging substantive conversations and ducking questions about the issues that impact our community.

Harper Neidig



August 29, 2016

ISIS 18 Yr Old Guy Has a Bomb Malfunction During Church Attack

Isis bomber attacks Catholic priest with axe during Sunday Mass
The suspect was taken in for questioning (Picture: EPA)

An Isis suicide bomber attacked a Catholic priest with an axe during Sunday Mass – but failed to set off an explosive device.
The priest, Albert Pandiangan, was injured after he was stabbed in the arm in a church in Medan on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, police said.
  
However, the 18-year-old attacker was restrained by brave churchgoers who rushed to the priest’s aid.
Pictures from inside the church show a young man covered in blood after the incident.
Local chief detective Nur Fallah said: ‘Somebody tried to kill the priest by pretending to attend the church service and at that time tried to explode something, like a firecracker, but the firecracker didn’t explode, it only fumed.’
Indonesian antibomb squad carry an explosive from the Santo Yosef chuch after a man tried to attack a priest in Medan on August 28, 2016.   A knife-wielding attacker in Indonesia stabbed a Catholic priest and tried to set off an explosive device at a church on, police said, the latest in a string of attacks on religious minorities in the mainly Muslim country. / AFP PHOTO / HAKIM RANGKUTIHAKIM RANGKUTI/AFP/Getty Images
The incident happened during Mass in a packed church (Picture: Getty)
epa05512597 Indonesian mobile brigade policemen stand guard after an attempted suicide bombing by an unidentified man at St. Yoseph Catholic Church in Medan, Indonesia, 28 August 2016. An unidentified man attempted a suicide bombing with a small bomb and only injured himself, with no other casualties reported.  EPA/STR
Armed soldiers stood guard after the attack (Picture: EPA)

The drama unfolded when the teenager left a bench, ran towards the priest and allegedly attempted to detonate a bomb in his backpack, national police spokesman Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said.
Fallah described it as a ‘homemade explosive device’.
  
He then attacked Mr Pandiangan, 60, who was taken to hospital with slight injuries.
Eyewitness Markus Harianto Manullan said: ‘He sat in the same row as I did. I saw him fiddling with something in his jacket, and then I heard a small explosion and he immediately ran to the podium.’
Police have interrogated the teenager.


Metro.co.uk 

October 31, 2015

Gay Priest Says The Church Makes Gay People’s Lives “Hell”



                                                                                 
                                                                         



The Rev. Krzysztof Charamsa, left, and his boyfriend Eduard
(surname not given) left a restaurant after a news conference in downtown Rome Oct. 3
 at which he said he was gay and in a relationship. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A former Vatican official, who was stripped of his post early this month after acknowledging publicly that he was gay and in a relationship, has renewed his criticism of the Roman Catholic Church, accusing it of homophobia.

The official, the Rev. Krzysztof Charamsa, made public an Oct. 3 letter he had sent to Pope Francis in which he denounced the Church, saying that it had made the lives of gay and transgender people “a hell.” He wrote that the Church had persecuted gay Catholics and had caused them and their families “immeasurable suffering.”

“Be merciful — at least leave us in peace, let the civil states make our lives more humane,” Charamsa wrote in the letter, which he released Wednesday. (Note: The full text of the letter is below.)

The Vatican declined to comment.

Charamsa, 43, a former official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has made such assertions before. Earlier this month, on the eve of the synod, the Church’s assembly of bishops from around the world, he announced in the Italian and Polish news media, and then at a news conference in a restaurant in central Rome, that he was gay and had a partner.

He spoke of the “often paranoid homophobia” in the Church and contended that many Church officials were gay. 

Within hours, the Vatican issued a terse statement calling “irresponsible” his decision to come out just before the synod. The Vatican also immediately dismissed Charamsa from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical universities where he had taught theology.

His diocese in Poland then suspended him indefinitely from his functions as a priest, urging him to return to the “true teaching of the Church and Christ’s priesthood,” a reference to Roman Catholic priests’ vow of celibacy.

In the final document produced by the bishops at the synod, which was presented to Francis for his consideration, the bishops reiterated the Church’s position that gays should be respected, avoiding “any mark of unjust discrimination.” But the bishops reiterated that same-sex marriage was not acceptable and had no “remote” founding in God’s plan on marriage and the family.

Charamsa, who is working on a book about his years at the Vatican, said Wednesday that the synod had taken a step backward on gay and transgender issues.

“The homophobic closure of the synod on gays resuscitated my passion for this battle to bring the Church into the modern era,” he said in an interview on Skype from Barcelona, Spain, where he lives with his partner. “That’s why I made my letter to the Holy Father public, in the hope he can go beyond the synod on the issue.”

While criticizing the synod’s final document for repeating stereotypes on homosexuality, Charamsa singled out the words of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, who had told the bishops, “What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today.”

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“That’s why I renew my appeal to the Holy Father,” Charamsa said in the interview. “No one publicly said a word against those defamatory sentences. What kind of respect does that show to us all?”

Charamsa said that the Church should provide marriage equality for all Catholics and revise its teaching on homosexuality. “If the Church can’t make a serious, scientific reflection on homosexuality and include it in its teachings,” he said, “even the Holy Father’s openings and warm words on gays are empty.”

Francis appears to have a more open-minded approach on homosexuality than his predecessors. He famously said he did not judge people based on their sexual orientation, and during his recent trip to the United States, he met privately with a former student who is gay and was accompanied by his partner.

Unlike Charamsa, some gay activists say they view the synod’s results more hopefully, citing what they see as positive aspects of the final document.

“Bishops write that families with members with homosexual tendencies need a particular care, and that, in the Church language, opens to consider same-sex families, as their members are homosexuals or lesbians,” said Andrea Rubera, a spokesman in Rome for the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, an international network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholic associations.

“We need to work with, and not against, the Church,” he added.

But Charamsa rejected any compromise, saying that by ignoring gays, lesbians, and transgender people, the Church is asking the faithful to believe that the Earth is still flat.

Asked whether he would like to marry his partner, Charamsa said, “I see no difficulty in a priest to be married, and that’s regardless of their sexual orientation.”

* * * * *

The following is the full text of a letter addressed to Pope Francis on Oct. 3 by Polish Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, a former Vatican official who publicly revealed that he’s gay and in a long-term relationship on the eve of a Synod of Bishops in Rome in which discussion of how the Church relates to gays and lesbians was expected to be a major topic of conversation. Crux translated the letter from Italian.

Holy Father, Dear Francis,

I have always loved the Church of Christ.

Today, as a baptized person, as a priest and a theologian who’s wanted to serve the Church with my entire life, I turn to you, my superior and pastor of this Church.

After a long and painful period of inner discernment and prayer, before God and with full consciousness of the gravity of the moment, I’ve made the decision to publicly refuse the violence of the Church with regard to people who are homosexual, lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual and intersexual.

Being myself a man with a homosexual orientation, I can’t continue any more to tolerate the homophobic hatred of the Church – the exclusion, marginalization and stigmatization of people who, like me, are continually offended in their dignity and human rights, rights which are denied and struck down by this violent Church and its individual faithful.

Today I stand on the side of courageous homosexual people, who for centuries have been humiliated by the fanatical Church. I no longer accept a salvation that gratuitously excludes a part of humanity. We homosexuals don’t need the compassion that the Church promises us. We’re neither the enemies of the Church or of the family, which is the false and offensive image that Church has succeeding in creating about us. We desperately seek only to be respected in our dignity and our rights. If the Church is so obtuse, so incapable of reflection, so behind the times in terms of the conscience of humanity, as Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini put it so well, if it can’t come up with an adequate welcome for this innocent people, it should at least stop pressuring states and nations that want to respect the human right of homosexual people to a civil marriage.

[Note: Martini, a former Archbishop of Milan frequently mentioned during his lifetime as a papal candidate, died in 2012. In his final interview, Martini said he believed the Catholic Church was “200 years behind the times”.]

Let the Church focus on its own religious marriage and make its heterosexuals happy, who right now don’t seem all that happy behind the prison walls of the cold doctrinal rigidity of the Church! But stop spreading hate against those who want to live their own love in peace on this earth! A Church incapable of dialogue with humanity should be quiet, if it’s not capable of using reason!

I thank you for some of your words and gestures as pontiff with regard to some homosexual people. But your words will have value only and exclusively when all the violent and offensive declarations of the Holy Office about homosexual people are cancelled, as well as the obscene instruction of Benedict XVI that prohibits admission to the priesthood for homosexual people. In the meantime, the clergy, which is full of homosexuals and at the same violently homophobic, should be consistent with this diabolical instruction: All the gay cardinals, the gay bishops and gay priests – including fantastic gay priests, as they are – should have the courage to abandon a Church that’s inhuman, insensitive, unjust and violent.

[Note: The “Holy Office” is a reference to the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal watchdog agency, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The instruction under Pope Benedict XVI to which Charamsa refers appeared in 2005 and was issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education, which is responsible for supervising seminaries.]

I stand with homosexual people to be at their service and to help them wake up this dormant Church, which is Pharisaical and hypocritical, locked into its cold and inhuman doctrine without mercy or charity, a homophobic Church that knows only how to hate the other because he or she isn’t heterosexual. It knows how to persecute and destroy the loves of thousands of gays who are spiritual people, open to the transcendent and sensitive to the divine. They’re treated as excluded lepers by the Church, as if human beings choose their own sexual orientation, heterosexual or homosexual.

I stand with this people that’s oppressed and persecuted by the Church. I stand with that people as a Polish priest representing a particularly hateful Church, which is presently led by pastors without hearts or brains, for whom one can only ask forgiveness and show the proper compassion. Some of them are with you in the synod, with their language of hate lacking any human sensitivity, interested only in how to pressure democratic governments and get them to submit, how to steal more and more from the common good, and how to deny fundamental rights to free people.

I’ve lived a long period of discernment and inner struggle in order to reach the full awareness that I will no longer accept this hatred of exclusion: If the salvation the Church has to offer does not respect the nature of homosexual people, I refuse that salvation. I refuse it in the name of God, who created us and loves us as we are.

I reflected a long time about this decision, in part because I know how violent the Church is toward anyone who leaves it. I’m afraid of how violent the Church could be towards my family, which has no responsibility at all for my decision. I’m especially worried for my mother, a woman of unbreakable faith, who’s not to blame for my decisions. I know the risks she runs in this violent and uncaring Church, to which she’s unreservedly dedicated her entire life. Catholics can be people without hearts, without mercy, without any human feeling, following the logic of collective responsibility for individual decisions and destroying the lives of the innocent. In Poland, Catholics are true maestros of hatred, of stigmatization and exclusion of others, of homophobia. My mother does not deserve any offense from this inhuman Polish church!

“I want mercy from you, not sacrifices!” [Note: This is a quote from the Old Testament, Hosea 6:6]. God does not want human nature to be sacrificed. God respects the mystery of created human nature, yet the Church hates everything about human nature that’s different from its project of power and dominion over people and their sexuality. The church serves only the heterosexual part of humanity, and does not want to reflect calmly and rationally on the nature of homosexual people.

Holy Father, the challenge facing the Synod of Bishops, the major part of which is intellectually dormant and has never experienced the smell of the sheep, is not only the faithful who are divorced and remarried, but also those of us who are sexual minorities who have the right to live our love in dignity, a love which the Church is stubbornly killing. [Pope Francis has said he wants pastors who “carry the smell of their sheep,” meaning who are close to ordinary people.] We have the right to a family life, even if the Church doesn’t want to bless it. We exist and will continue to exist, even if the Church reduces us and keeps reducing us to nothing, as it still does with faithful who are divorced and happily remarried.

In order not to upset your happy journey of heterosexual salvation, which is different from us, many of those of us who are sexual minorities have already withdrawn from your Church. Absolutely do not pity us! Have pity only on yourselves, the hypocrites and Pharisees over whom you’re presiding in the synod. But please, have mercy! Have just a touch of mercy! Have mercy: At least leave us in peace, allowing civil states to make our life more human, while you with your Church have succeeded in making our lives as homosexuals and lesbians nothing but a Hell.

Your Church should only apologize and then keep quiet forever! Or, it should convert during its path in the synod and start to think about that part of the Church and of humanity made up of homosexual believers, whom you denigrate, offend and stigmatize, humiliating and excluding them as if they were lepers.

I pray for you, knowing that you’re a man of God, but I will do everything I can to help homosexual people wake the Catholic Church from its inhuman sleep, which by now has reached bestial limits of intolerability.

Yours,

Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa

Adjunct Secretary of the International Theological Commission

Official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome.

cruxnow.com

December 17, 2014

Word of Fellowship Members Beat Gay Man Right on Their Sanctuary




Word of Faith Fellowship Church grounds in Rutherford County, N.C.  CBS AFFILIATE WSPA  
SPINDALE, N.C. }}For Matthew Fenner, a crowd of parishioners gathering around him in a church sanctuary after a prayer service was a sign of trouble.
Within minutes, he said they began to berate him because he was gay. One woman told him he was "disgusting." Then for two hours, they pushed and hit Fenner, screaming at him as they tried to “break me free of the homosexual 'demons,'" he said in a police affidavit about the Jan. 27, 2013 attack. 

Nearly two years later, five Word of Faith Fellowship church members have been indicted for kidnapping and assault in connection with Fenner's beating.
But the case has opened new wounds in the rural North Carolina community where the church has been a lightning rod of controversy.
Now a student at the University of North Carolina, the 21-year-old Fenner told The Associated Press that he believed his life was in danger that night.
He said he had to press authorities to investigate his allegations because of the church's influence in the community.
"The line between religion and abuse, they are crossing it quite severely. That's why I'm doing this. They have to know you cannot hurt people," he said.
But Joshua Farmer, whose law firm is representing the five church members, said that was nonsense.
"In short, this stuff is an absolute complete fabrication," Farmer told the AP. "They are innocent of the charges."
This is the latest controversy to surround the church founded in 1979 by Sam and Jane Whaley. The church, which has 750 members and operates a 35-acre complex in the rural community of Spindale, has been accused for years of enforcing extensive control over its congregation.
Former members say they were told by church leaders where to live and work, what to read, how to dress and when to have sex with their spouses.
Word of Faith also practices "blasting," a form of hands-on, high-pitched, screaming prayer. The church says it doesn't celebrate Christmas and other holidays because of their pagan origins.
The church was investigated twice in the late 1990s for its treatment of children but was cleared of any wrongdoing.
In recent years, national gay rights groups have criticized Word of Faith after several young men - whose parents are church members - claimed they were abused because they are gay.
"It's pretty clear to me ... that these individuals wanted to inflict pain on Matthew because of his sexual orientation," said Brent Childers, executive director of Faith in America, a group that addresses harm done to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people by "misguided religious teachings."
Several telephone messages for church leaders, including Jane Whaley, were not returned. But Whaley has told the AP that her church has become a "target" - and they have spent millions in the past fighting off claims of abuse.
Rutherford County Sheriff Chris Francis and District Attorney Brad Greenway did not return telephone messages.
Justin Covington, 20, of Rutherfordton; Brooke Covington, 56, of Rutherfordton; Robert Walker Jr., 26, of Spindale; and Adam Bartley, 25, of Rutherfordton have been indicted on one count each of second-degree kidnapping and simple assault.
Sarah Covington Anderson, 27, of Rutherfordton, faces the same charges - and one count of assault inflicting physical injury by strangulation. It's unclear how the Covingtons are related, but the indictments show they live at the same Rutherfordton address.
The police documents and interviews with Fenner reveal details of the case. Fenner's family joined the church a few years ago at a time when Fenner said he was struggling with his sexuality.
He said he decided to attend the church and its school because of his mother.
"My mom and I were always really close and I just thought maybe I can keep an open mind and see if it works - see if I can change. Obviously, that was really a stupid decision because you can't change who you are. But in my mind it seemed like the right thing to do," he said.
During that period, he said he became a tutor, helping other students at the church, and going to services. He said church members suspected he was gay - and later began harassing him, the police affidavit said.
But Fenner said nothing prepared him for what happened on Jan. 27, 2013.After a nighttime church service, three members asked him to go to the back of the sanctuary. In the affidavit, Fenner said the three were soon joined by about 20 others and they surrounded him. And that's when "deliverance soon ensued."
He said they began pushing him and hitting him and using "other violent measures" that were all part of the church's way of trying to cure him of being gay.
It lasted about two hours before they let him leave.
When he got home, he said he told his mother, but she didn't believe him - even though he said he was covered in bruises.
He said he went to his grandparents' house and he called the sheriff's office. And he said that was the beginning of his struggle to get law enforcement to take action.
UPI

September 10, 2014

Megachurch Starts Cutting Back after Pastor said ‘Women are Home for Penises’



Megachurch Prick Mark Driscoll: Women Are Homes for PenisesEXPAND
Things aren't going so great for Mark Driscoll and his Mars Hill empire. The latest: Church attendance has dropped like a rock, and now they’re planning to consolidate branches and cut as much as 40 percent of paid staff.

 Pride goeth, etc.
According to the Seattle Times, Mars Hill will consolidate several branches and cut staff:
The church, which had blossomed to15 branches in five states and had followers around the world, also plans to cut 30 to 40 percent of its paid staff of about 100. That staff already had seen layoffs last spring and a string of departures in recent weeks by pastors angry or uneasy about the church's direction.
A church spokesman said Mars Hill began the year with a combined attendance of 12,000 to 13,000 every week; it's dropped to 8,000 to 9,000.
And it's no surprise, either, after a string of terrible headlines. For those who haven't been following the story, a summary: After accusations of everything from plagiarism to intimidation(the repulsive ideas about gender weren't an allegation so much as an obvious given), matters came to head in late August, when (as King 5 News reports) nine pastors from Mars Hill petitioned the church's elders to remove Driscoll. (That's in addition to the 21 former pastorswho called for his removal, by the way.) On August 24, according to Religion News Service, Driscoll announced he'd be taking a six-week leave of absence while they investigate.
Since Driscoll stepped back, though, one of the nine pastors says he's been fired. (Another, director of worship Dustin Kensrue, resigned last week.) That's according to OregonLive, which picked up the statement from pastor Mark Dunford. According to King 5 News's sources, the unpaid lay pastor was given the boot for "rebellion against the church." Charming.
None of this looks particularly great for Driscoll, and it's clear the disaffection in his own community has reached critical mass. Let's put it this way: blogger Matthew Paul Turner, who's long chronicled Driscoll's antics, just announced he's done with the topic because "I no longer need to blog about Mark. People far better fit to tell the story are now doing just that–they'respeaking up! And thank God they are. May they be heard."
As the news unfolds, consider this little tidbit that blogger Libby Anne at Patheos (h/t Raw Story) plucked from a trove of 2001 Internet postings allegedly written by Driscoll under the pseudonym "William Wallace II" (get over yourself, you immense ball of rancid cheese):
The first thing to know about your penis is, that despite the way it may see, it is not your penis. Ultimately, God created you and it is his penis. You are simply borrowing it for a while.
While His penis is on loan you must admit that it is sort of just hanging out there very lonely as if it needed a home, sort of like a man wondering the streets looking for a house to live in. Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.
Oh, and: "Though you may believe your hand is shaped like a home, it is not." Just a little FYI, gents. First-rate theological thinking right here. I'm sure John Calvin would be so, so proud.
first Photo via AP Images

May 2, 2013

Pope Let Cardinal O’Brien Go As if Nothing Happened



THE Vatican is expected to take no further action against Cardinal Keith O’Brien after he admitted having sexual relations with four priests and a seminarian.
The Archbishop of St Andr­ews and Edinburgh was forced by Pope Benedict XVI to step down in February after admitting that “my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, an archbishop and a cardinal”.
However, Scotland on Sunday has learned that there is no active investigation into his behaviour and that the Vatican is only keeping a loose “watching brief” on his case. O’Brien is also unlikely to be asked to give up his rank as a cardinal unless the new Pope decides to confer the traditional red hat on another senior Scottish catholic.
It is understood that senior figures in the church do not believe a formal investigation is now warranted as he has already admitted and apologised for his behaviour. He has not been seen in public since stepping down as archbishop on February 25.
A source close to the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s civil service, said: “When an investigation takes place people expect some kind of public result of the investigation, but there is just no way there is going to be some kind of public examination and a published report on this matter. The Church doesn’t work that way.”
A second source also explained that the Vatican, whilst keeping a “loose watching brief” in case of further allegations against O’Brien, has not launched any official investigation.
Last September, O’Brien was ordered to step down from public life by the Congregation of Bishops after a priest from the Aberdeen diocese made allegations that included propositioning him at the Scots College in Rome after he been made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003.
When word of the “secret agreement” leaked in February, four other priests from the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh made complaints of a sexual nature against the cardinal to the papal nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, in London.
They were advised by the papal nuncio to stay silent and told that O’Brien would retire quietly to Rome. But fearing a cover-up and adamant that he should not attend the conclave to elect the next Pope after Benedict XVI stunned the world by stepping down, they went public with what they believed was an abuse of power.
Since the cardinal’s retirement as Archbishop on 25 February, the Vatican is said by insiders to consider the matter closed.
It had been suggested at the time of his forced resignation that the next Pope may consider stripping him of his red hat but experts in canon law insist this could be difficult to do and is highly unlikely.
Instead, should the Secretariat of State, the Vatican’s “foreign office”, consider that it is suitable to appoint a new Scottish cardinal, O’Brien may be asked to voluntarily resign the position.
A source close to the Vatican said: “The secretariat of state and the papal nuncio will decide what is the best course of action, they will make this decision and then ask Pope Francis whether he agrees.”
The spokesman for the Vatican, Father Lombardi, did not reply to requests for comment, while the secretary to the papal nuncio said he was not prepared to comment. O’Brien could not be reached for comment.

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