Showing posts with label Gays and Religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gays and Religion. Show all posts

February 16, 2019

New Book Claims Four in Five Priests are Gay











 
@IrishCentral

A new book claiming that 80 percent of Vatican priests are gay is due to be published next week. 
The Guardian reports that ‘In the Closet of the Vatican’ by French journalist Frédéric Martel details four years of reporting in a nearly 600-page book.
Bloomsbury, the publisher of the new book, promises a “startling account of corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Vatican” which reveals “a clerical culture of secrecy which starts in junior seminaries and continues right up to the Vatican itself.” 
The new book is due to be released on February 21 in eight different languages around the world.
Its release date coincides with the first day of a massive Vatican conference about sexual abuse within the Catholic church, which some worry may lead to critics again conflating the issue of sexual abuse with homosexuality. 
As part of his research, Martel, a non-Catholic and openly gay man, conducted 1,500 interviews with an array of clergy members and diplomatic officials and spent time every month in the Vatican.
The Tablet, a Catholic news site, says that Martel argues in his book that the more vehemently a priest denounces homosexuality, the more likely it is that they are gay themselves.
The book reportedly conveys that some Catholic priests maintain long-term discreet homosexual relationships, while some partake in “high-risk” casual encounters.
Others, the book claims, are in denial about their homosexuality altogether. 
The book also claims that while some 80 percent of Catholic priests are gay, they are not all necessarily sexually active.

January 25, 2019

American Bible Society Tells Its Employees to Affirm No Sex and Go To Church or They Will Be Terminated


My first question is, what the hell are they doing working there? Ok, ok they need a job. So, Woulf the courts get involve to resolve the isssue? Im not curious to find out how will the Trumpie Supreme Judges will vote. Adam






(RNS) — Employees at the American Bible Society have until the end of this month to sign a statement promising that they will attend church and abstain from sex before marriage, which it defines as between a man and a woman.

Anyone who doesn’t sign the Affirmation of Biblical Community will be out of a job effective Feb. 1.

The new policy was introduced by the society’s board in December 2017, giving employees 13 months to decide whether to sign. While the statement essentially consists of conservative Christian beliefs, the effect of the policy will be to allow the society to terminate LGBT employees and unmarried heterosexuals who are not celibate.


Roy Peterson, president and CEO of American Bible Society. Photo courtesy of American Bible Society

So far 36 people have quit their jobs, only a slightly higher number than in previous years, according to Roy Peterson, the society’s president and CEO.

Those departures represent a little less than 20 percent of the society’s workforce. But several have explicitly resigned in protest of the affirmation, and more are expected to resign by the end of the month.

In a statement responding to questions from Religion News Service, Peterson said the affirmation policy “was introduced because we believe a staff made up of people with a deep and personal connection to the Bible will bring unity and clarity as we continue our third century of ministry.”

At least one board member may be a casualty of negative reaction to the new policy. Angela F. Williams, the CEO of Easter Seals, a nonprofit providing disability services, resigned earlier this month. She had served as vice president of the American Bible Society’s board.

Williams would not comment on why she stepped down, but her departure came a week after a former American Bible Society employee, Jeremy Gimbel, confronted Easter Seals on social media, asking why its CEO serves on the board of an organization that “discriminates against LGBT individuals.”

Easter Seals does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status, according to a 2014 policy manual.

“I feel like the world needs to know what this organization really stands for,” said Gimbel, a gay man who had worked for the American Bible Society for 10 years as a web services manager before quitting last year after the affirmation policy was introduced.


Jeremy Gimbel, a 34-year-old gay man who had worked for the American Bible Society for 10 years, quit after the ABS adopted a new affirmation policy. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Gimbel

He penned a blog post about the experience in which he wrote: “I don’t think anything could have prepared me for how it would feel to sit amongst my colleagues, some of whom I’d worked beside for almost 10 years, and be told by the president of American Bible Society that I was no longer welcome there. No longer wanted. No longer good enough.”

Another gay man who said his position was eliminated last month told of numerous vacancies and at least one department gutted.

“The people they have lost have hurt this company like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. He declined to be named because his severance package requires him not to say anything negative about the organization.

The policy cements a shift that began in the 1990s for the organization — founded in 1816 to publish, distribute and translate the Bible — away from its ecumenical roots toward a narrower evangelical identity.

Beginning in the 1990s, the American Bible Society changed its constitution to make it a ministry that undertakes “Scripture engagement.” Previously the charter said the society published Bibles “without note or comment.”

Last year, the organization scuffled with a group of academics who protested the American Bible’s Society’s recently acquired .bible domain name because it excluded any group with a scholarly or secular orientation from using the internet network address. Its policies prohibit any content that “advocates belief in any religious or faith tradition other than orthodox Christianity or Judaism,” barring those critical of religious traditions or views considered unorthodox by ABS.

Since the introduction of the affirmation policy, the American Bible Society has also moved ahead with plans to open a $60 million museum on Independence Mall in Philadelphia on the ground floor of its headquarters. The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, which is slated to open next year, will “demonstrate how the Bible has changed those who changed America,” said Peterson.

Local Projects, the group that designed the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, is developing the interactive exhibits, which include five galleries and a 3D immersive theater.

“The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center invites visitors of all backgrounds to discover the relationship and role of faith and liberty in fostering core American values and to discover what these values mean for themselves,” Peterson wrote.

The museum is expected to draw 250,000 visitors annually.


Just a note from

A Long Tradition Of Gay Marriage

As churches struggle with the issue of homosexuality, a long tradition of same sex marriage indicates that the Christian attitude toward same sex unions may not always have been as "straight" as is now suggested. A Kiev art museum contains a curious icon from St. Catherine's monastery on Mt. Sinai. 
It shows two robed Christian saints. Between them is a traditional Roman pronubus (best man) overseeing what in a standard Roman icon would be the wedding of a husband and wife. In the icon, Christ is the pronubus. Only one thing is unusual. The husband and wife are in fact two men.
St. Serge and St. Bacchus

Is the icon suggesting that a
homosexual or same sex marriage 
is one sanctified by Christ?

The very idea seems initially shocking. The full answer comes from other sources about the two men featured, St. Serge and St. Bacchus, two Roman soldiers who became Christian martyrs.
While the pairing of saints, particularly in the early church, was not unusual, the association of these two men was regarded as particularly close. Severus of Antioch in the sixth century explained that "we should not separate in speech [Serge and Bacchus] who were joined in life." More bluntly, in the definitive 10th century Greek account of their lives, St. Serge is openly described as the "sweet companion and lover" of St. Bacchus.
In other words, it confirms what the earlier icon implies, that they were a homosexual couple who enjoyed a celebrated gay marriage. Their orientation and relationship was openly accepted by early Christian writers. Furthermore, in an image that to some modern Christian eyes might border on blasphemy, the icon has Christ himself as their pronubus, their best man overseeing their gay marriage.



July 16, 2018

Episcopal Church Removes All Restrictions for Same Sex Marriage




, Nashville Tennessean
The Episcopal Church removed restrictions on same-sex marriage Friday, making it so all couples can wed where they worship. 
While they are already permitted across much of the Episcopal Church, the bishops in Middle Tennessee and seven other U.S. dioceses had not permitted religious wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples in their regions of the church. The decision made Friday by the denomination's governing body overrides those local decisions.
The General Convention, which wrapped up its triennial meeting in Austin, Texas, on Friday, passed a resolution with overwhelming support that makes it so all couples can marry in their local congregations. They now do so under the direction of their priest, instead of their bishop.
"I am thrilled," said Connally Davies Penley, a member of All Sacraments for All People. 
The local grassroots group has been advocating for equal access to marriage within the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee since Bishop John Bauerschmidt announced his ban on same-sex weddings in 2015.  
Under the resolution passed Friday, clergy still can decline to bless or solemnize any marriage. But if the couples live in a diocese where the bishop theologically objects to same-sex marriages, that bishop will tap, if necessary, another willing one to provide pastoral support to all involved.
"I think it's a wonderful compromise, which respects the dignity of the bishop and his position, but still allows marriage for all in their home congregations," said Davies Penley as she prepared to leave Texas on Friday afternoon. 
The final amended version of the resolution had broad support in the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.  
Bauerschmidt supported the original language of the resolution prior to the July 5 start of the General Convention. On Saturday he said in an email that he would be writing to the diocese about it next week.
“The Resolution allows access to the liturgies for same sex marriage in the Diocese of Tennessee while preserving the rights and responsibilities of the parish clergy for the use of their buildings for any liturgy. In other words, there is much to work out. It also preserves the ministry of bishops as chief pastors and teachers in our dioceses,” Bauerschmidt said.
“We will be working out what it means for our diocese with clergy and congregations in the coming days.”
This resolution builds on the General Convention's 2015 decision to approve the trial-use liturgies for marriage that made way for same-sex couples to wed in the Episcopal Church. At the time, they left it up to each bishop to decide whether or not the liturgies could be used in their diocese. 
The inconsistent rules prompted couples and advocates locally and nationally to push to no longer have bishops decide the matter. They wanted all those who desire to marry in their home dioceses to be able to do so.
After the 2015 General Convention decision, 93 bishops authorized same-sex weddings, but eight did not. Bauerschmidt, who believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, is one of the eight. 
In addition to not authorizing them, Bauerschmidt declined to allow clergy within his diocese to officiate the religious ceremonies or permit the weddings on church property. Same-sex couples wanting to marry were referred to the Diocese of Kentucky. 
As a result of the bishop's ban, Indie Pereira and her wife Pari Bhatt opted for a civil ceremony instead of the church wedding they wanted.
Given the policy change on Friday, they are hopeful that they will be able to have their church wedding at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Nashville, which is where they worship on Sundays. 
"We're definitely pleased that it passed," said Pereira, who was sitting in a dentist chair when her wife rushed in the room to tell her the news.
The next step, Pereira says, is to have a discussion with her priest and parish to discern a path forward, but she is hopeful that she and her wife will be able to have their church wedding next summer.
She knows work will need to be done to make sure those who disagree still feel included in the diocese. She anticipates that Bauerschmidt will continue to emphasize unity within the diocese moving forward just as he has in the past.
"I feel like we can do that and we can stick together," Pereira said. "I feel like we can get through this." 
The resolution does not change the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer by making the trial-use liturgies permanent, which some church members had hoped would happen. Instead, the resolution extends their trial use until the next comprehensive revision of the prayer book.
Some Episcopalians did not want the prayer book altered, including Bauerschmidt, who worried it would threaten the unity of the church. 
The resolution that passed Friday will not go into effect until the first Sunday of Advent, the liturgical season leading up to Christmas that starts in the fall.
Reach Holly Meyer at hmeyer@tennessean.com or 615-259-8241 and on Twitter @HollyAMeyer.   

June 4, 2018

This is Why Christians Should Celebrate Gay Pride

Image result for rainbow and the cross




Every June, the LGBTQ+ community, and allies celebrate Pride Month, an opportunity to center and celebrate LGBTQ+ people in their fullness, to look back on strides toward equity, and to imagine a world where celebration and full inclusion is the norm, not an exception. For many Christians, however, Pride Month is looked upon with judgment and reproach and is seen as an opportunity to preach vitriol against LGBTQ people.

Pride is an opportunity, not just for the LBGTQ community to celebrate, but for non-LGBTQ people to repent and to enter into a more holistically Christ-like way of being. 

In many ways, Pride Month became necessary because of homophobic Christians. As a collective (though there are denominations such as the UCC and Episcopal traditions that have long worked toward greater inclusion), Christians, particularly conservative evangelicals, have created much of the context for the historic exclusion, abuse, victimizing and othering of LGBTQ people.  

Jesus’ cross is one of love and inclusion; yet the church has made across that forces LGBTQ people to carry the weight of exclusion, bullying, and rejection.

From instituting the inherently homophobic pseudoscience of reparative “therapy,” to disowning and rejecting LGBTQ family members, friends and congregants when they come out, Christians have historically punished and ostracized the very people whom God told us to love unconditionally. By normalizing homophobic language from the pulpit and justifying mistreatment in the name of theological “purity,” the church has contributed to the political, relational and spiritual dehumanizing of LGBTQ people. 

Through this normalization, the church has manufactured across that it forces LGBTQ people to bear. Jesus’ cross is one of love, self-sacrifice, and radical inclusion; yet the church has made across that forces LGBTQ people to carry the weight of exclusion, bullying, rejection, depression, isolation, suicidal inclination, repression and judgment. The church is guilty of, and complicit in, creating a culture of death, homelessness and isolation that in no way reflects the character of God.

Scripture and the image of Jesus have been weaponized against people made in the image of God. The church has chosen to elevate a perceived theological issue over the humanizing and healing of an entire community. It has pitted a judgmental caricature of Jesus against people and has called it the real Jesus, the will of God. At the end of the day, we should not need a systematic theology degree to decide and act as though all people are made in the image of God and that God accepts them ― the answer is always yes.

Now, before Christian Cathy comes barreling in with, “But what about the Bible, what does it say?” I am not interested in a proof-text argument for the sake of seeing who is “right.” To do so is to miss the point completely. The ultrareligious Pharisees reflected in the gospels constantly weaponized the text against people morally while not caring about their humanity. Jesus’ sentiment to them was always the same ― he invited them to give life instead of moralizing people out of it and to lighten the load of religiously oppressive practices that they created. Jesus’ litmus test was not a hermeneutic interpretation, but compassion and inviting people on the margins to the center. This posture of God is the same today. 

The fruit of most Western Christian theology is death, depression, homelessness and exclusion. The church limits access points for LGBTQ people to safely engage in the Christian community and attempts to convince them that the image of God in LGBTQ congregants is somehow less present than in other people. 

We should not need a theology degree to decide whether all people are made in the image of God and if God accepts them ― the answer is always yes.

Christians have an opportunity this month, and in each day forward, to repent, to look at the ways that Christianity at large has harmed LGBTQ people and to turn to a better way. That was is one led by queer voices, one that takes us closer to Jesus. This month is an opportunity to see our role as oppressors clearly, to make reparations where necessary, to elevate voices that we have silenced, to work against discriminatory legislation, to uproot our own homophobia, and to celebrate the gift of the resilient, dynamic and diverse LGBTQ community. 

At the most basic level, the church should allow Pride Month to expose our homophobia. And, instead of hiding behind theology or tradition, it should ask what repentance really looks like. This is a time to learn from LGBTQ people and to create communities that create radical love, acceptance, centering and defense of LGBTQ people instead of falling into the historic trend of anti-LGBTQ sentiments, policy and action. 

The church must give space for LGBTQ voices at the pulpit and must refuse to theorize and theologize about people if they are not in the room. It can do this by intentionally offering leadership at the highest levels of churches and organizations. The LGBTQ community has always had a voice, but, historically, the church has simply plugged its ears while yelling the same flat proof texts. LGBTQ Christians have already been leading the way in this religion and have done so in the face of animosity, the question of their faith, and the rejection by faith communities. We must follow them for our collective liberation. As a collective, the church can do better. It must do better. The stakes are too high to maintain lines in the sand. 

As Christians, we give up a piece of our full humanity when we forgo compassion and treat people as objects worthy of scorn or violence. Pride gives us an opportunity to end oppressive practices and ideology while also becoming more fully human ourselves. We get to learn from the image of God that is in LGBTQ people, the image that teaches the diversity of how God relates to gender and sex, that teaches how to celebrate and remain resilient in the name of pursuing love, and how to fight for our own collective humanity. It is necessary that in this month and beyond, Christians choose to return the things that we have taken from LBGTQ people: voice, space, dignity, safety and an affirmation of their full humanity. 

The gift of Pride for Christians is an opportunity to see ourselves clearly in all of our oppressive histories and to follow the celebration of this month into a better way.  

By Brandi Miller  Who is a campus minister and justice program director from the Pacific Northwest. 

These Editorial was published on Huff. Post’s 

MORE BY BRANDI MILLER
Hate Speech Is Not Something That ‘We Can Agree To Disagree’ About
White Evangelicals Are The Most Fragile Of All White People
Don’t Mistake A Little Progress For Racial Equity.      See all from this author

December 6, 2017

Anti Trump Evangelicals Are Riding Him Against LGBT to The Supreme Court


Mike Farris hated the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision, and he loudly ridiculed Donald Trump's run for president. But now he’s taken a big gay wedding cake case all the way to the Supreme Court, vying for a major victory in the fight against gay rights. And the Trump administration is supporting him in court.

 If you are licensed by your locality to serve the public, Can you pick and choose not to serve some because you don't like the color of their skin, the clothes they are wearing as long as they are wearing them or whom they love? Whether we make an artificial heart for the body or a cake to eat they are both handmade and it takes a talent to be able to mold and make it. In other words, they are both products of a person's ability.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case in which you may or may not if you have a business, to serve LGBT despite your dislike of them.You can't say the bible because the bible does not mention these terms as we know them today and the bible is not recognized by the law as the ultimate test of how people should be dealt in a non-religious society such as ours. In some countries, you are forced to have a religion but never in this country at least legally (there has always been pressure to belong to your parents' religion today but one could say religion instead.)   The Judges would have to decide if this baker can choose not to serve to people he does not like or to people he thinks his religion will object. If so, does a right to serve without discrimination is more or less important or takes precedence over one's internal religious beliefs. The baker is not being asked to like, or socialize or behave in any way like a gay person or to attend the wedding (let's say like a photographer) but to treat the business like everyone else.  Adam


The same hour Jeff Sessions was sworn in as the nation’s 84th US attorney general in Washington, DC, Mike Farris was at a strip mall in Scottsdale, Arizona, bowing his head over a sizzling platter of fajitas.

“Father, thank you so much for this beautiful day and providing for our needs,” he said above the chicken-and-steak lunch special. “Jesus Lord, amen.”

It was a hot February afternoon, and Farris, wearing a slightly-too-large gray suit, had been named CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom four weeks earlier. Taking reins of the 24-year-old group, which now has a staff of 250 and a $59 million budget, is the opportunity of his lifetime, said Farris, a constitutional lawyer with a hairdo befitting a 1970s newscaster.

ADF has spent years cultivating high-profile religious freedom bills in statehouses while slogging through courts, particularly defending Christian shopkeepers who refused service for same-sex weddings. Millions of Americans have heard of ADF’s biggest case: a dispute over a wedding cake that will go before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. But through this, ADF itself has held a low profile, even being an occasional outsider in the evangelical political movement.

So, as Farris started his new job, he wondered how the group could stand out.

“I think the biggest misconception about ADF is that we don’t exist,” Farris said, cutting into his chicken. “The question is, how do you get recognized without screaming?” 

In the 10 months since Farris took over, he has shepherded the group from relative obscurity to arguably become the most influential — and increasingly prominent — conservative law group in the United States. And Farris has gone from antagonizing President Donald Trump, and his evangelical allies, to biting his tongue as his agenda flourishes under the Trump administration.

ADF isn’t the only conservative legal powerhouse, but it is closing a key segment of the judicial loop. The Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, and Judicial Crisis Network have pushed Trump to nominate dozens of conservative federal judges — including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch — while ADF is proving deft at getting its cases before those judges, with the Justice Department ready to come in as the backup.

“ADF’s influence has been building, and I think Mike Farris has helped them move forward.”

“They’ve chalked up a whole lot of victories in free speech and academic freedom under his leadership,” Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said of Farris in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “ADF’s influence has been building, and I think Mike Farris has helped them move forward.”

Lee, like other congressional Republicans, has a close relationship with ADF and he has sponsored bills that ADF supports — such as one that would protect people with a religious objection to same-sex marriage.

But the relationship between Farris and the White House is far more complicated. Before taking the reins at ADF, he was an outspoken critic of Trump during the 2016 election. He accused Trump of “arrogance,” saying he was unreliable in the fight to stymie transgender rights and defend religious expression. Yet Farris, who during the election was running a Christian college and a homeschooling defense group in Virginia, had significant ties to the Trump team. On election night, that meant sending congratulatory texts to his friend Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

“I was really grateful that my friend was going to be vice president of the United States,” he recounted in February. 
Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
Farris’s pedigree — and baggage — made him a surprising pick for some staffers inside ADF’s headquarters in suburban Phoenix. Many expected a younger face, for one. Farris came with battle scars as the former Washington state director of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority in the 1980s and a former sidekick to Phyllis Schlafly, who fought to stop the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. In 2003, Farris coauthored a brief to the Supreme Court arguing gay sodomy should remain a jailable offense in Texas, writing, “The history of this country reflects a deep conviction that sodomy is criminally punishable conduct and not a constitutionally protected activity.”

Farris said he thinks none of his 18 grandchildren, including infants, would grow up to be gay. “So far they’re all walking in a Christian life,” he explained. Farris said he loves his one gay friend — they met online playing bridge — but he also fears the spread of gay-rights laws.

Farris bucked fears he’d be a dinosaur, and pleasantly surprised some staff. He chose Kristen Waggoner, the fast-talking, always-smiling head of the group’s legal affairs in the US, to argue the baker’s case before the Supreme Court. Many had expected him to pick one of the staid, older male litigators the group traditionally relies on for big cases. He quickly took a more hands-on approach in lawsuits than his predecessor, Alan Sears, according to staffers. Sears founded the group and played the role of spiritual guide, embedding the organization with his ethos of a humble attitude and crushing court briefs.

But while Sears shied from the limelight, Farris said he wants to publicize not just the “colorful stories” of his clients, but also himself.

“I am willing to be more visible publicly, and so I think visibility partly is a CEO duty, and I plan to have a fairly substantial Washington presence,” he said. Yet he wanted to maintain the group’s style of avoiding being abrasive. “We want to do it in a way that is eloquent and pleasing to people who are different.”

ADF set the stage for its newfound influence before Farris arrived, but the organization’s growing profile is owed in large part to the serendipity of Sessions becoming the federal government’s top lawyer.

Farris and Sessions have come together — in an unofficial public-private partnership — on a wide range of cases and situations. When the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the baker’s case this week, the US solicitor general will take one-third of the argument time to help ADF, even though the federal government isn't party to the case. Meanwhile, the Justice Department is supporting an ADF case for a Christian proselytizer on a college campus, Sessions personally joined ADF’s annual private strategy event in California this summer, and federal lawyers have solicited advice from Farris’s staff on at least three occasions. The two men have done their work together quietly, mostly below the daily news churn.

Top civil rights lawyers, though, worry the ambitions of ADF and the Justice Department could do more than just regulate cake and flowers. They believe Farris and Sessions’ crusades in court may unravel civil rights laws broadly — creating new loopholes for businesses and employers to skirt decades-old laws that protect other religious faiths and people of color.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, arrives for a news conference after attending a Conversation on America's Future with Donald Trump and Ben Carson sponsored by United in Purpose, Tuesday, June 21, 2016, in New York. 

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, arrives for a news conference after attending a Conversation on America's Future with Donald Trump and Ben Carson sponsored by United in Purpose, Tuesday, June 21, 2016, in New York.

J.P. Duffy, a spokesman for the Family Research Council, can still quickly identify the spots in the group’s Washington, DC, lobby where bullets once ripped through wood paneling and drywall. A gunman brought a 9 mm Sig Sauer pistol into building on Aug. 15, 2012, and said, “I don’t like your politics,” as he shot the building manager in the arm, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court. Prosecutors said the man had seen the organization listed as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-gay positions and wanted to kill as many people as possible. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Tony Perkins, the group’s president, says the “hate group” designation is a misnomer that foments violence.

“You just have to have a biblical view of marriage, and be unyielding on that, to be called a hate group.”
“The American spirit is a confrontational spirit,” Perkins said in his office, decorated with a sword and a sculpture of an eagle. But he said his group isn’t actually confrontational. “You just have to have a biblical view of marriage, and be unyielding on that, to be called a hate group.”

The same week that Perkins and Farris met with BuzzFeed News, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated ADF as a hate group for the first time in its history.

Lee balked at the label, saying in a phone call, “It’s preposterous to compare the conduct of neo-Nazis, of the KKK — of actual hate groups — to the conduct of ADF.”

Heidi Beirich, director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, told BuzzFeed News they’d been on the fence about whether to put ADF on the list. “What really pushed us over the top,” she said, was an ADF lawyer cheering India’s top court criminalizing gay sex. “I mean, if you are supporting the idea that gay people should be thrown in jail for consensual sex you are clearly a hate group.”

Staffers at ADF worry the designation actually nurtures the very hatred that it claims to identify, and ADF’s offices in Scottsdale and DC are now both patrolled by security guards. “We have increased security measures due to SPLC's recent reckless designation,” an ADF spokesperson said this November.

“We are not surprised that groups like ADF and FRC don’t agree with our listing them as hate groups,” Beirich responded. “Groups like ADF and FRC are even more dangerous than some other hate groups because they feign legitimacy, and they have access to the halls of power. These groups might have friends in high places, but make no mistake, what they do is pollute the mainstream with hate.”

She noted that ADF has supported criminalizing sodomy in the US, and has backed extreme efforts in Europe with its international program. ADF has argued nations should be allowed to enforce their own rules for legal gender changes, such as first requiring genital surgery.

The vast majority of ADF’s work is the result of largely low-key, methodical strategy behind the closed doors of state legislatures and inside ADF’s headquarters off a desert highway.

A dozen Mickey and Minnie Mouses decked the walls and shelves of Waggoner’s Scottsdale office, and she wore a jewel-encrusted, silver-and-gold Mickey watch when pointing out two glass urns of Peanut M&M’s next to her desk. “Sometimes when you come in here, it’s not always the best of circumstances, and you need something to lift your mood,” she said, offering some candy.

Attorney Kristen Waggoner, right, representing florist Barronelle Stutzman, who was fined for denying service to a gay couple in 2013, addresses a hearing before Washington's Supreme Court as Attorney General Bob Ferguson, left, and others look on, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, in Bellevue, Washington.

Attorney Kristen Waggoner, right, representing florist Barronelle Stutzman, who was fined for denying service to a gay couple in 2013, addresses a hearing before Washington's Supreme Court as Attorney General Bob Ferguson, left, and others look on, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, in Bellevue, Washington.

Waggoner, like Farris, cut her teeth as a lawyer in Washington state, and she believes in tailoring her language to her political adversaries. In 2006, when she was opposing eight gay couples suing to obtain marriage licenses, Waggoner joined a local gay and lesbian group that met regularly in Seattle, she said. “I mean, they knew who I was, and I knew they were advocating for the other side. I hope it helped me when I talk about it, so I’m not coming across as mean-spirited or that I lack understanding.”

Waggoner won the case.

ADF has particularly long arms into state legislatures, producing three types of model laws: bills protecting religious people in general, bills protecting those opposed to same-sex marriage and transgender people specifically, and legislation restricting transgender people’s access to bathrooms.

Some of them become law. Most notably, Mississippi passed an act in 2016 that protects people and businesses that refuse service based on religious beliefs about gender and marriage. It was the most sweeping, specific statute of its kind in the nation. Key swaths are verbatim mirrors of ADF’s model for a so-called government nondiscrimination act. Both the law and ADF model bill protect people and businesses who take an action — or refuse to act — based on a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction...that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman” and the belief that a “male (man) or female (woman) refers to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics by the time of birth.”

ADF also has a model “Physical Privacy Act” to restrict transgender people from certain restrooms. An analysis of Media Matters for America, a liberal group, found eight states filed bills with substantial likenesses to the ADF model in 2017 alone.

Waggoner said ADF was also in touch with Texas officials over a bill this year — which did not become law — to limit restroom access for transgender people.

The number of religious freedom bills and transgender bathroom bills slowed in 2017, Waggoner said, but she was “confident” that was because lawmakers were waiting to see what would happen to Mississippi’s law (which was put on hold by a court) and a Virginia bathroom case. Waggoner reasoned that more states will follow if courts allowed the Mississippi law to take effect, and in the fall, a court did. ADF represented the state of Mississippi in court.

ADF has won seven US Supreme Court cases in the past four years, but one victory is arguably the most crucial to understanding the group’s overall approach — and, ironically, it’s a ruling that few people associate with ADF.

In 2014, the group was representing a woodworking company in the case of Conestoga Wood Specialities Corporation v. Sebelius, in which the family-run business claimed the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate violated its right to free exercise of religion and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (a 1993 federal law known as RFRA). However, the Supreme Court consolidated the woodworker case with another case that would become widely recognized — Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. — and ruled in favor of the businesses.

“This is a kinder, gentler strategy that the religious right has been developing for a while.”
ADF didn’t get much credit, but the court’s 2014 decision was nonetheless consequential for ADF’s future, particularly its approach to LGBT rights. The court had ruled closely held corporations could opt out from the health care law’s requirement if adhering to it would violate a sincerely held belief, per RFRA. The upshot was that ADF helped expand the scope of RFRA — and they could, possibly, do it again.

By spring 2015, the nation was consumed with debate over state versions of religious freedom bills in state legislatures. LGBT groups insisted the bills were designed to create a loophole in LGBT nondiscrimination laws by letting anti-LGBT business owners claim a religious recusal; conservatives said the bills would merely protect religious beliefs. It’s hard to say how RFRA can be interpreted by a court. But when there’s a dispute, ADF has stood ready to make its case.

“They’re not foaming-at-the-mouth gay bashers,” said John Corvino, a professor of philosophy at Wayne State University in Michigan who specializes in LGBT issues. Corvino recently published a book debating religious liberty with Ryan T. Anderson — who does policy work at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “ADF is doing a pretty good job of saying they just want to live and let live.”

“A kinder, gentler strategy that the religious right has been developing for a while"

That kinder, gentler strategy has even included a gay couple. In a video on ADF’s Facebook page, two men, T.J. and Matt, stand outside the bakery in Colorado — where the Supreme Court’s gay wedding cake case began. T.J. says, “We’re gay, and we’re here to say we’re here to support [shop owner] Jack Phillips.” The video underscores that Phillips is willing to sell customized products to gay people for nonwedding purposes, and in that vein, Matt adds, “We’re here to buy stuff from him and support him because we don’t think any artist should be forced to create for something that violates their beliefs.”

ADF allies have also tried to weaken claims that the group opposes civil rights. On Oct. 23, ADF promoted a press conference by the Frederick Douglass Foundation. “I am an ex-lesbian,” Janet Boynes said alongside a group of black activists outside the Supreme Court. “I can change my sexual behavior, but I cannot change my skin color. I am very concerned that the gay-rights movement has hijacked the civil rights movement from African-Americans.”

While ADF associates with groups that embrace a range of extreme views, Farris argues that his group is fundamentally different from groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, which among other things, chants the message “God hates fags.”

“We are not anywhere near those people,” Farris said.
 
If Farris needed to prove he can build bridges into the Trump administration, he succeeded on July 11, when Sessions arrived for a closed-door speech at ADF’s Summit on Religious Liberty at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California. The event was a big oceanside strategy session for the coming year, featuring hundreds of ADF’s lawyers and allied attorneys, who basked in Sessions’ praise.

“While your clients vary from pastors to nuns to geologists, all of us benefit from your good work,” Sessions said.

Sessions have piggybacked his social agenda on the work of those lawyers. The Justice Department filed in federal court to support an ADF client in Georgia who’d been seeking the right to evangelize on campus, and brought ADF and a number of other groups — on the left and right — to give advice on developing religious freedom guidance.

And most significantly, the Justice Department filed a brief at the Supreme Court supporting ADF in the baker case, and Solicitor General Noel Francisco will stand shoulder to shoulder with Waggoner to argue before the court on Tuesday.

Farris is new to the Trump fold. Evangelical leaders made a pilgrimage to Trump Tower without him during the campaign in 2016. “I’ve opposed Trump, and wasn’t invited,” Farris wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post. “But even if I had been, I wouldn’t have gone.” He called Trump a brazen, arrogant, unrepentant man who lacked principle, saying his “views on the sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, policies related to transgender individuals, limited government and religious freedom appear to have been written on an Etch A Sketch.”

Farris publicly rebuked Jerry Falwell Jr., whose father founded the Moral Majority in 1980, for getting too cozy with Trump. Farris wrote on Facebook, “Comparing [Trump] to Jesus was as close to heresy as I ever wish to witness.”

ADF itself has sometimes been an outsider among prominent Evangelical organizations. In June 2016, when other Christian right groups feted Trump in a New York City ballroom, for instance, ADF wasn’t invited to cosponsor the event. And while leaders from the Heritage Foundation and Family Research Council studded Trump’s transition team, ADF’s top operatives — by design — were in the Arizona desert.

The turnaround to get the Trump Justice Department’s support wasn’t easy for ADF. Waggoner, while saying she was “pleased that the Justice Department weighed in” on the baker’s case, noted that federal officials still hadn’t settled cases over the Obamacare contraception mandate. When BuzzFeed News asked about the extent of ADF’s dealings with Sessions, Waggoner chafed, saying a meeting with Justice Department lawyers was not a cakewalk, but an interrogation.

“The way you are trying to suggest there is some connection, it’s just not accurate,” she said. “The ACLU had that same open line with the Obama administration.”

“What I would say is that ADF’s work is getting noticed and supported by this Justice Department.”
But Waggoner’s point underscores a truth about ADF’s enormous influence: It has, one case at a time, positioned itself as the ACLU of the religious right — a go-to powerhouse nonprofit law shop with expertise in a wide range of disciplines that frequently sets the legal agenda for the US government.

“What I would say is that ADF’s work is getting noticed and supported by this Justice Department,” Waggoner said.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment on how else it has collaborated with ADF. But on the baker’s case, the official said by email, “It is standard practice for the Solicitor General's office and relevant Department attorneys to meet with counsel for parties with pending cases before the Supreme Court.”

Justice Department lawyers also held meetings with lawyers representing other parties in the case, including the ACLU and the office of the Colorado solicitor general — but Sessions chose to oppose them in court.

But even with ADF and the Justice Department working in tandem, they’ll face challenges at the Supreme Court — as a mock trial in November demonstrated.

At the Newseum in Washington, DC, reporters played the part of justices, and they were stuck on a key part of ADF’s case — the idea that cake and other wedding products are a form of speech. ADF contends workers have a First Amendment right to not create a “message” that endorses a same-sex wedding — even though Colorado law says anti-gay discrimination is illegal. David Cortman, a top litigator for ADF, insisted this case is about free speech, not anti-gay bias, stressing the case doesn’t implicate rights of mixed-race couples.

But Ria Tabacco Mar, a lawyer for the ACLU, countered that a ruling for the baker could open the door for discrimination against people of color and other minorities. “If the baker’s claim were accepted,” she said, “any business could claim an exemption from our nation’s anti-discrimination laws simply by characterizing its products as expressive.”

Waggoner has bristled at the idea that winning the cake case could have implications beyond same-sex marriage. “To suggest to say there is a comparison to interracial marriage is designed to shut down debate,” she said in a phone call. “It’s a red herring,” she added. “The suggestion that there is a slippery slope is absurd in light of case law. This case is about marriage; this is not about sexual orientation.”

Caleb Dalton, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, argues before justices in the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division Third Department on Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Albany, New York. Owners of a wedding venue are challenging a discrimination ruling and $13,000 fine for refusing to host a lesbian wedding. Lawyers for the owners of an upstate New York wedding venue argued that they were following their Christian faith.
 
Caleb Dalton, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, argues before justices in the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division Third Department on Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Albany, New York. Owners of a wedding venue are challenging a discrimination ruling and $13,000 fine for refusing to host a lesbian wedding. Lawyers for the owners of an upstate New York wedding venue argued that they were following their Christian faith.
Farris doesn’t drink, but on a chilly November night at the Pierre, a luxury 1930s hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, he chatted with chardonnay-sipping guests. Servers swanned by carrying silver platters of filet mignon on crustless brioche for an ADF reception about ways to stop gay marriage abroad.

The guest of honor was Tony Abbott, Australia’s former prime minister, who’d come to condemn the upcoming plebiscite on same-sex marriage (Abbott’s side would lose 14 days later), and the event served as the reminder that ADF appears willing to fight against gay rights on whatever playing field a country presents.

Farris, who stood next to a three-tiered table, like a massive wedding cake topped with canapés, said he’d been busy all week: He’d been holding moot court practice hearings with Waggoner, trying to prepare her for the Supreme Court. He wanted to make sure there’d be no question she would face at oral arguments she hasn’t heard before.

“In arguments, the chances of you losing the case are greater than the chances of winning the case,” he told BuzzFeed News, adding that he was grateful the Justice Department was taking 10 minutes of argument time. “The solicitor general is considered to be the 10th justice, and having that kind of endorsement of your position is good. They can’t lose it for us.”

Farris also stressed that the baker isn’t opposed to the customer’s sexual orientation. “We wouldn’t be defending this if it was somebody saying, ‘I will never serve gay people,’” Farris said, trying to thread the needle between turning someone away because they’re gay and refusing to convey what he called “a particular message.”

“My greatest desire is for people to understand what the path to civility is,” he went on, “and I believe the path to civility is allowing freedom from coercion. We don’t want to open up a broad door for discrimination for people as people.”

So will Farris get in touch with his friend Mike Pence as he plots out his next moves? “He changed his cell phone number,” Farris said. “So that ended.”

Not that Farris necessarily needs Pence these days. The group has helped propagate ambiguous legislation in legislatures and Congress, and it’s proven it can get its cases up to the Supreme Court to hash out broader readings of the law. And now, when they do, Sessions will have their back.

Farris is still evasive though on just how he thinks homosexuality should be treated in the US in 2017. Farris paused for several seconds before answering when BuzzFeed News asked him if he believes same-sex sodomy should be legal. “It is legal,” he said. That is true, but that’s because Farris and other lawyers on Farris’s side lost their argument that criminalizing gay sex was “grounded on a moral judgment.”

ADF maintains blurry lines between what it truly wants and how it’s willing to compromise, because, it seems, its goals shift based on what’s possible at any given time.

Does the group merely want to protect religious creative professionals from sending messages they dislike — or does it actually want shopkeepers to legally discriminate because someone is gay? Is it also interested in the wholesale criminalization of gay people, or would it like to erode civil rights laws more broadly?

On stage with Abbott at the Pierre Hotel, Farris, who had a lot of sun after returning from Scottsdale, said the baker “represents millions of other Americans, more than the creative professionals, who maintain a traditional belief in man-woman marriage.” Nonetheless, with the piecemeal precision ADF has employed throughout its recent work, he focused on what was still feasible in the US, given the “seismic event” of the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling.

“I don’t expect the broadest victory,” he said of the baker’s case. “I’ll take a victory of any sort.”

Dominic Holden
Dominic Holden

Editorial by the Publisher of Adamfoxie*Blog International
Take the civil war in Ireland between Catholics and Protestants, Bosnia, Iraq (same religion different sects) etc., etc. The separation in those places is enough to kill people of the opposite sect.

Religion has always been used as a tool to separate people. Even families in the US every day of the week are being divided today by those who attend church services to those that don't.  All those anti-gay laws which many countries are getting off the books now and some like Canada even making compensation for those who suffered jail, lost of jobs, beatings, killings of family members for just being themselves and loving and adult just like them. All those laws come from a religious revival of old dogma that some decided to apply to sexual orientation but to nothing else even though there are some things like being unfaithful, not eating Pork, blood sausages, seafood with a shell, which is placed in a higher plateau of the pyramid of human sins. This particular behavior against LGBTQ from the recognized church is because it has to do with sex. People don't mind gays as long as they pass as straights, go to church and monetarily contribute. No wedding cakes because there would be no weddings.The LGBT understands clearly the awful things that have been done in the name of freedom of religion in the past and in no way would let it go without a fight in these times. It was a wedding cake, once the couple was denied to do what everyone one did, which was to place an order then we were being placed on a route we know too well and along the way, we lost because we did not want to come into the open and fight so we let people abuse us and do as they wished in the name of religion. No more. If you know the history of the Christian church or most religions you know this to be true and you won't be the one that says "but is only a cake." That cake train left the station a few years ago. There was a discussion and the LGBT community wanted to help the Baker with fines or court costs but then there was Trump And in AL. the religious voting community there says they don't care what the pedophile judge to become a senator did as long as is not a democracy that wins (73% on a poll Tues.)Where is the religion there? Against the same excuse, religion comes first. There are so many 14 yr olds arriving in NYC every day from the midwest from homes in which the parents kick them out if "they were going to continue to be gay." 

I am a seminarian with a 3 yr. degree and two yrs post graduate who grew up in a Protestant family. Seeing stuff like this in my family and people I knew made me question everything. At least I was able to go back and see how big the lies are but since people grow with them, they don't get to see them unless they step out. I understand that some people need to believe in something and I'm pro that but not standing on other people's head, particularly their own offsprings and family. Are there good decent Evangelicals? yes and in all religions. The LGBTQ has received lots of support from them but never to match the people supporting the pedophile judge and behind this baker.



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