Showing posts with label Religion & the Law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion & the Law. Show all posts

September 29, 2016

Judge Suspended Before Pushing 10Commdts. Now for Refusing SSex Marriage

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore should be removed from office again, this time for defying the U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage, lawyers for a disciplinary commission argued on Wednesday.

Testifying under oath, Moore called the latest charges "ridiculous."

The ethics case involves an administrative order Moore sent six months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gays can marry in every U.S. state. Moore said then that because the Alabama Supreme Court had not rescinded the state's gay marriage ban, the state's probate judges remained bound by it.

The outspoken Republican jurist, now 69, was removed from office in 2003 for violating judicial ethics by refusing to remove a Ten Commandments statue, but voters later re-elected him.

"We are here 13 years later because the chief justice learned nothing from that first removal. He continues to defy law," attorney John Carroll told the Court of the Judiciary as he argued on behalf of the Judicial Inquiry Commission, which is seeking Moore's removal.

Moore said his January memo simply provided a status update to judges who had questions because the Alabama Supreme Court had not acted to reverse the state ban.

"I don't encourage anyone to defy a federal court or state court order," Moore said. "I gave them a status in the case, a status of the facts that these orders exist. That is all I did."

Moore's lawyer, Mat Staver, told the court that Moore "did not order them to disobey anything."

But Moore did acknowledge in a testy cross-examination that his administrative order told probate judges to follow the very same state court ban that a federal judge specifically said they could no longer enforce.

"His order sowed confusion. It did not clear it up. He urged defiance, not compliance," another lawyer for the commission, R. Ashby Pate, told the court.

The nine-member court now has 10 days to rule on whether Moore violated judicial ethics, and what punishment he should face if so. A decision to remove him from the bench must be unanimous. The chief judge, Michael Joiner, said a decision was not lik
ely Wednesday, but will come "as soon as possible."

Moore stands accused during a season of political upheaval Alabama. The house speaker was removed from office this summer for ethics violations, and a legislative committee will decide if evidence supports impeaching Gov. Robert Bentley after he was accused of having an affair with a top staffer.

Before the hearing began, rainbow flags and Christian music competed for attention outside.

"The truth is homosexuality is wrong," said Donna Holman, who traveled 12 hours from Iowa and carried a sign saying "It's not OK to be gay.

"Equal marriage is the law. Love will always win,” countered Madison Clark of Montgomery.


January 28, 2016

Measure to Destroy LGBT Rights for Religion to Discriminate Comes to a Stop in Indianapolis


Efforts to repeal last year's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act and replace it with new protections for "fundamental rights" came to a screeching halt Wednesday.

The measure, which also would have repealed last year's so-called RFRA "fix," failed to advance from a Senate committee after the chairman declared that the "timing is incorrect."

That decision shifts the focus to this afternoon's hearing on expanding the state's civil rights law to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Scores of opponents and supporters had shown up at the 9 a.m. hearing to testify on Senate Bill 66, which would have increased protections for religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble and the right to bear arms.

"These rights belong to each and every one of us,” the proposal's author, Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, said, “and I’m trying to protect every one of those rights for everyone in this room."

But after allowing Young to explain the bill, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brent Steele, R-Bedford, declined to hear testimony, discuss or vote on the bill because he said it had been “mischaracterized.”

“Sen. Young’s logic is correct, and his legal analysis is correct, and I believe his motive is laudable,” Steele said. "The timing is incorrect. Probably next year would be a chance to have a legal discussion on this, on protecting our constitutional rights.” 

Opponents had dubbed the measure "Super RFRA" and feared it was an attempt to sanction discrimination against gay people. They worried it would re-ignite last year's firestorm over RFRA, which prompted boycott threats, event cancellations and travel bans. Gov. Mike Pence and lawmakers quickly passed a so-called "fix" to prevent the law from being used to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Religious conservatives, however, have advocated for more rigorous protections for religious freedom through RFRA last year and SB 66 this year. They also oppose measures extending LGBT rights because they fear such laws may require them to violate their religious beliefs about same-sex marriage.

At Wednesday's hearing, one gay rights group printed out 118,000 tweets from last year that included the hashtag BoycottIndiana. The tweets — two per page — took up several boxes and were wheeled in on a cart.

Peter Hanscom of Indiana Competes, a group of businesses seeking a statewide ban on discrimination against LGBT people, said the committee's decision was a realization by lawmakers that the debate needs to shift to civil rights.

"You don’t need to go backwards and rehash this entire fight again. It makes absolutely no sense," he said. "Repealing RFRA, repealing the fix, and then re-inserting another RFRA had the capacity and most likely would have incited another nationwide firestorm on our state."

The decision to shelf SB 66 surprised Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute, which opposes adding LGBT protections to the state's civil rights laws.

He said Young's bill “elevated the conversation” about protecting freedoms, getting beyond last year’s RFRA controversy.

“I think this transcended the original RFRA, and that’s part of the reason I thought it was a novel and fresh idea,” Smith said.

Another Senate committee is expected to take up two measures later today that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but with exemptions for some religious objectors.

October 5, 2015

The Pope, Gay Marriage and a Publicity Seeking Clerk [What Really Happened]


There is no wondering where I am with this Pope, any Pope or the Catholic Church. I believe no matter who has been leader of the catholic church there is not much difference between them. Its has been whether the man was introverted or extroverted. The introvert would be the majority (they don’t travel much nor make many pronunciations on anything, be politics or doctrine)  but once in a while you get a Polish Pope that criticizes communism or what seem to be a humble people liking Uru-Argentinian Pope. As adults these two extroverts had very strong opinions of the politics of their respective countries and the world thus becoming more vocal on world politics once they came to the Vatican.

In the case of popular Pope Francis the issue of Gay marriage had already hit both Uruguay and Argentina in which found him in a position of power or strong voice within the church. He is on the records on gay marriage, civil Unions and adoptions by gays. Those positions have not change. What has change is the perception of this man and the speed in which those issued have been settled in the United States and other countries, as far as any decision is settled; which means the government backs it as most of the voters.

Now we have the incident of the County Clerk who refuses to obey both the Supreme Court and the order from the Governor to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians. There is no doubt she is breaking the law everyday and has done jail time for it. Had it been a Reporter protecting its sources he or she would still be in jail but it was decided this is what the woman wanted as well s those backing her in the extremes of the GOP political machine. Every day she spent in jail was a money making day for the anti gay machine to fight more [a settled law] same sex marriage and adoptions.

 Many including myself wished there was real change coming from a place that doesn’t change, the Vatican. There were fixed inclement changes like being open about giving Mass on other languages other than Latin that only the Priests understood and some form of relaxing dress codes particularly for nuns but those have been just dressing changes not changes on their or doctrine or the way they think. A bishop or a Pope is not someone that can come out of the streets and clean house. It is a long hard process that weeds out most. Only those who have shown real obedience and respect to the way things are done and to the past are those that grow in the church. The Pope most posses the qualities of a smart politician being that he has to convince others to vote for him as pope without openly asking for their vote.
Olivia Goldhill gives us on the site a summation going back to 2010 of what Pope Fracisco is said about these issues. 

You will see now how things happened with this pope, the clerk and as important why would any of this means the Pope is change his mind or not about gay, lesbians and marriage as it applies to the Catholic Church. 

Some American liberals were prepared to claim Pope Francis as one of their own after his hugely successful visit to the US last week. But the pope’s left-leaning image was shattered when it was revealed that the pontiff met with Kim Davis, a county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. 

News of the meeting stirred confusion over the pope’s attitude toward gay marriage. A battle of press releases between the Vatican and Davis’s lawyer—each seeking to portray a different interpretation of the meeting—only muddied the waters more.

As the country continues to debate whether the pope’s stance on gay marriage is more or less progressive based on recent events, it’s worth mulling over a timeline of some of his most noteworthy comments on the subject, including the breakdown of events over the past few days.

2010: He comments positively on civil unions. When Argentina was debating legalizing gay marriage, Francis—then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio—reportedly proposed civil unions as an alternative option. “We believe that we must propose more comprehensive civil union rights than currently exist, but no gay marriage,” Bergoglio’s spokesman, Federico Wals, told Argentina’s Infonews. Argentine bishops did not endorse the idea.

June 22, 2010: He opposes gay marriage and adoption. In a letter to the Carmelite Nuns of Buenos Aires in 2010 (pdf), Bergoglio made his opposition to gay marriage extremely clear. He called the political movement “the destructive attempt toward God’s plan,” and “the envy of the Devil.” He also said that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children: “At stake are the lives of so many children who will be discriminated against in advance, depriving them of the human maturation that God wanted to be given with a father and a mother.”

July 29, 2013: He says, “Who am I to judge?” Francis made some of his most tolerant remarks while talking to a plane full of reporters on the way back from his first foreign trip as pope, to Brazil. “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” he said.

November 17, 2014: He advocates that children should be raised by a mother and father. Speaking at a Vatican colloquium called, “The Complementarity of Man and Woman”, Pope Francis re-iterated his belief that children should be raised by heterosexual parents. “The family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation,” he said. “Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.” Pope Francis added that family is an anthropological fact that cannot be qualified “based on ideological notions or concepts important only at one time in history.”

July 10, 2015: He blesses a gay couple. Pope Francis wrote in response to a letter from Francesca Pardi, author of the children’s book Why do you have two moms?. Pardi summarized the letter on her Facebook page, saying the pope “hopes for an always more fruitful activity at the service of young generations and sharing authentic human and Christian values.” The pope ended the letter with his “apostle’s blessing” for Pardi and her partner, Maria Silvia Fiengo.

August 28, 2015: He clarifies that a blessing does not endorse “unfit behaviors.” statement from the Vatican insisted that the pope’s blessing was meant for the individual and was “not in line with the church’s doctrine on gender theory, which has not changed in the slightest.” The letter was not “meant to endorse behaviors and teachings unfit to the Gospel.”

September 29, 2015: He meets with Kim Davis. Davis’s lawyer, Matt Staver, revealed on Sept. 29 that Pope Francis had a private meetingwith the county clerk on Sept. 24. “I was humbled to meet Pope Francis. Of all people, why me?” Davis said in a statement. “Pope Francis was kind, genuinely caring, and very personable. He even asked me to pray for him. Pope Francis thanked me for my courage and told me to ‘stay strong.'”

September 30, 2015: The Vatican confirms his meeting. Eight hours after Davis’s statement, the Vatican finally confirmed the meeting took place. “I don’t deny that the meeting took place,” said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, “but I have no comment to add.”

October 2, 2015: His meeting ‘does not endorse Davis’s views.’ The Vatican issued an unusual statement attempting to downplay the pope’s meeting with Davis. The meeting was “brief” and dozens of people had been invited, said the Vatican. “The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” added the statement. A spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, minimized the event further, saying the invitation came from the papal nuncio’s office in Washington, not Rome. He also implied that Pope Francis didn’t know of Kim Davis’s recent political activism.

I would simply say: Her case is a very complex case. It’s got all kinds of intricacies. Was there an opportunity to brief the pope on this beforehand? I don’t think so. A list is given — these are the people you are going to meet.

Father Rosica added that the Vatican press office knew of the pope’s meeting with Kim Davis but “may not have been aware of the full impact of the meeting. It is very difficult sometimes when you are looking at things in America from here.”

The Vatican’s official statement also had an intriguing yet vague allusion to a significant meeting. “The only real audience granted by the pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family,” said the statement.

October 2, 2015: He confirms meeting with a gay couple. It turns out the pope’s “only real audience” was with one of his former Argentine students, Yayo Grassi, a gay man who brought his partner of 19 years to the meeting in the Vatican’s embassy in Washington. “He has never been judgmental,” Grassi told CNN. “He has never said anything negative.” The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis met with Grassi on Sept. 23.

October 2, 2015: Davis’s lawyer contradicted the Vatican version of events. Matt Staver released a second statement, insisting that the meeting was initiated by the Vatican and the invitation was issued on the day Davis returned to work after her time in jail. Staver also said Kim Davis met privately with the pope. “This was not a meeting with other people in which Kim and Joe Davis were a part, but rather a private meeting with no other people in the room except Vatican security and personnel,” he said.

On Sunday (Oct. 4), the Vatican will begin a three-week meeting of bishops and laypeople to discuss the Catholic Church’s approach toward the family. Gay relationships may come up for discussion, but the working document (link in Italian) for the meeting suggests that they will be firmly rejected. The document reads:

There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.
Pope Francis may have a kindly attitude but, as head of the Catholic Church, he leads an organization with a long, firm history of opposing homosexuality.

September 12, 2015

Arkansas Open Door for 10 Commandments but the Satanic Temple might be Getting In also

What these zealots so called Christians with their appetite for religious symbols to be inserted into the public domain by the government not understanding that if you open the door for one religion you have to open it for all. I hope that if the court approves the 10 commandments they will be satisfied and also look at Satan right next to them and thank god for a fair nation that opens the door to all. Ins’t that what Jesus would have done, fairness for all!

The Satanic Temple is looking to kick up dust again. This time, the religious group is seeking permission to build a privately-funded monument on Arkansas capitol grounds in Little Rock. If given the go ahead, the monument would feature Baphomet, represented as a hoofed goat-headed figure. Arkansas officials are expected to make a decision soon. But why Little Rock?

The Satanic Temple’s attention was drawn to the Arkansas Capitol after the passage of Arkansas Senate Bill 939 earlier this year. Referred to as the Ten Commandments Display Act, SB939 authorized the construction of a monument bearing the Biblical rules on Arkansas Capitol grounds. SB939 explains that the Ten Commandments monument “would help” citizens remember “the moral foundation of the law” in the United States. This point is highly dubious when considering the First Amendment, which explicitly establishes the United States as secular nation.

Among the other rationales SB939 gives for the supposed legality of the Ten Commandments monument is that, aside from the specially authored bill, the State of Arkansas will not involve itself in planning or funding construction. While that’s certainly fine, the real rub comes not from the “how” but the “where” — public grounds. This doesn’t seem to bother Arkansas lawmakers, though.

If Christians can have their own monument, why should others be excluded from having the same? Taken to the logical extreme, the can of worms SB939 has opened hypothetically means if Christians can be represented on government property, any religious group with the money and the time to file the paperwork could have their own display. With the dozens, if not hundreds, of faiths that exist in the exceedingly multicultural United States, such a premise is clearly absurd. The Satanic Temple is looking to test this and has already made plans to build their monument using private funds.

The authors of SB939 seem to have already thought about this, though. The bill justifies granting special approval to the Ten Commandments display because of its apparently unique importance to U.S. law and history. Besides, the bill adds, the Ten Commandments (and by extension, Christianity, in general) “represent a philosophy of government” held “by the majority of Arkansans and other Americans today.” In other words, violating the Constitution is fine if it is justified as being supported by the majority. That’s a troubling line of reasoning.

Pointing this out would seem to be the Satanic Temple’s goal in Little Rock as it was in Oklahoma City. The group saw success not long ago as a similar situation unfolded in Oklahoma, where state lawmakers granted lawful construction of a monument featuring the Ten Commandments on Capitol grounds. Forcing the state to put its money where its mouth is, Satanic Temple also sought permission to construct their own monument. Even though they never got approval, the Satanic Temple had made its point. Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments monument was finally removed after the state’s supreme court ruled twice that it was unconstitutional.

Arkansas’ lawmakers, like Oklahoma’s, are apparently unaware of the irony of passing a law endorsing a religious monument on the grounds that it’s meant as a tribute to the “foundation” of U.S. law — a foundation that, in reality, includes a prohibition on government endorsing a particular religion.

This is exactly why the Satanic Temple shouldn’t get their monument on Arkansas Capitol grounds and why Christians shouldn’t get to keep their Ten Commandments display. This isn’t an attack on Christianity or religion — if anything, the U.S., being a secular federal government, is designed so that Christianity and indeed virtually any faith can be practiced and preserved. If one day the Christian lawmakers who seek to ignore the First Amendment find themselves in the religious minority, they would be shielded from genuine discrimination thanks to secularism. Secular doesn’t mean atheist or anti-Christian.

To cloak religious favoritism and illegal proselytizing in assertions about historical significance is intellectually dishonest. If monuments were to genuinely reflect modern U.S. constitutional history, documents like the Magna Carta or the charters that formed the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations would be more fitting for state Capitol grounds.
Llowell Williams
Film by KOKO

May 10, 2015

Rector Demanded A Lavish Home(Soho)He is Retiring Selling to Developer? $12mil

Trinity Church is selling this Charlton Street town house for $12 million.Photo: Helayne Seidman

“Feed the Poor, lead a life as an example of the saviour and redeemer of sin, of how he lead his life”
I figure that quote belong here on this Mother’s day. Particularly working mothers or mothers that are in social security, disabled, retired or working for low wages.
SoHo is one of the riches neighborhoods not just in New York but in the Country, with one of  the richest rectory’s so why should the spiritual leader not have the most expensive house there.? He could if I didn’t help pay for it.
When we talk New York we talk apartments. Even the wealthy live in apartments, luxurious yes ,but not houses. Most houses in Manhattan have not being constructed since the turn of the century. When the new Rector was named in 2004 He demanded this house and an allowance for his old house in Florida for well over $100,000. Which he got both, the Town house in Manhattan and the allowance for his old house for $118k. This all tax free. His old house in Florida and now when the rectory sells this house for $12million or so the tax payers of NY will get not a penny. That is the set up between the Churches’ and the Government in all levels.
I am not surprised as food stamps and other subsidies for the working poor in housing and help for those that have worked all their lives and paid the taxes now have to hear from the new government that is coming in power(GOP) that either their social security which they paid for, Medicare, which they paid for, will not have a serious cost of living increase but it might be cut, particularly medicare which will be going up for sure. Yes people have paid for medicare in their checks and when they needed. If they pay over $100 a month to see a Dr and then they are responsible for 20% of the bill. There plans now thanks to Obama care that gives them much more for that money , but it is not free sir SS or SSDI. I am not talking give aways, Im talking Social Security Disability Insurance or Retirement. There is not welfare involved there and let’s not get confused with SSI which is around $750 for those who worked but their income was so small they don’t even qualify for Regular SS which depends on wages. 
As these talks goes on in Washington it amazes me that the Church(all denominations) do not step in and say, instead of cutting to the poor, let us pay half the tax on our ‘luxury items’. This is for funding on programs that help people at the bottom of the ladder for no fault of their own. 
This is a pipe dream of mine and has such I will be surprise that they would do it on their own. One of the things we most look at after the debate on gay marriage is settled  is to look at what churches sponsored by tax payers including millions of gays are doing against some at the tax payers that supper them. We hear ministers even calling for the death penalty for gays. This does not come from crazy ministers but savvy one that need to energize their diminishing flocks with incendiary statements to put the fire under their feet on money on the plate. Churches are fear based. Imagined if people one day found out that there is not hell but the one we go through on Earth; What do you think would happen tot he churches if they could not scare people into giving?
I say put up all the bill boards, commercials and so on but:
“Don’t pay for billboards, signs, commercials, etc.,  saying how discussing gay people are and how they should die …with my money!” We seriously need to look at the fairness of this deal if we are going to go back on promises made to the working people, vets and the poor.
Going back to the Tax free Rectory story……………..
As I mentioned the rector’s royal residence is no more.
As Trinity Church sells the lavish Soho town house that the Rev. James Cooper demanded as his home when he became rector of the historic Manhattan church in 2004 he has to live somewhere, tax payer paid.
This rector retired in February and Trinity recently put the Charlton Street home on the market for $12 million.
While a Trinity spokesman in 2012 had rationalized the church’s $5.5 million purchase of the town house as a permanent rectory for future leaders of the church, Cooper’s replacement is living elsewhere.
The Rev. William Lupfer is ensconced in a 2,300-square-foot Battery Park City apartment with three terraces and riverfront views. The rent was advertised at $15,000 a month.
The apartment lacks the grandeur of Cooper’s 1827 Federal-style abode where crystal chandeliers graced the living and dining rooms and a garden-level kitchen came with a fireplace.
The master suite had a separate study, dressing room and a marble bath complete with its own refrigerator, microwave and wet bar.
Cooper, 70, and his wife, Octavia, lived in the home tax free. They have returned to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., a community south of Jacksonville where he used to preach. They’ve owned a home there since 1990 and also own property in Maine. A man that does not do regular work happens to have done so well! 
During his tenure at Trinity, the church paid him a six-figure annual allowance for the Florida home. The allowance came to $118,675 in 2012, according to the latest available figures which put Cooper’s total compensation at $1.2 million, including his salary of $339,469.
As I mentioned Cooper headed what is considered the richest parish in the Anglican world, with real-estate assets of some $3 billion. He clashed with members of the church’s vestry, or governing board. Critics said he lavished money on plans for a luxury condo tower and a publicity campaign and veered away from Trinity’s charitable mission.
A Trinity spokesman said Lupfer and the vestry were reevaluating the church’s housing policy and that “funds realized from the sale of the former rectory will be used to support Trinity’s mission.”
Cooper will not comment.
Adam Gonzalez , Publisher. Credit for the picture and source on the particulars where taken from NYPost on line publication
On the West coast JHale in charge of FB Distribution and Moderator.

November 3, 2014

UPROAR on Evangelical U. Because of Gay Rights and It’s President’s Error

 President D. Michael Lindsay (Photo By Elise Amendola/AP)

WENHAM, Mass. (AP) — D. Michael Lindsay thought he was on safe political ground when he signed the letter.
President Barack Obama was about to expand job protection for gays employed by federal contractors. Under the proposed changes, faith-based charities with federal grants worried they could lose the right to hire and fire according to their religious beliefs. Religious leaders flooded the White House with pleas to maintain or broaden the exemption.
Among them was one endorsed by Lindsay, president of Gordon College, a small evangelical school, and 13 evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders.
In the end, Obama left the existing exemption in place. But it was no victory for Lindsay.
His stand last July came at a cost — to him and the school — that he never anticipated: broken relationships with nearby cities, the loss of a key backer for a federal grant, a review by the regional college accrediting agency, and campus protest and alumni pushback over whether the school should maintain its ban on "homosexual practice" as part of its life and conduct standards.
"I signed the letter as a way of trying to show my personal support," Lindsay said during an interview at the Wenham campus, about 25 miles north of Boston. “Obviously, if I had known the response that in particular Gordon College would receive, I wouldn't sign." 
Lindsay had learned the hard way just how much gay rights had been dividing members of his own community and driving a wedge between his school and local communities.
Gordon is among the many conservative religious institutions struggling to find their place in a landscape rapidly changing in favor of gay rights. Their view of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is being challenged not only from outside, but also from within their own faith communities, and once-comfortable partnerships with public organizations are being re-evaluated according to new terms.
After coming under fire for its ban on hiring faculty in same-sex relationships, Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia decided this year to delay a decision on whether to uphold the policy, which means it won't be enforced for now. World Vision, a Christian international relief agency based in Washington State, said last March it would hire employees in gay marriages, but quickly backtracked after drawing condemnation from evangelical leaders and losing thousands of donors. At several evangelical colleges, students have formed advocacy groups for gay acceptance, such as OneWheaton, at Wheaton College in Illinois.
Lindsay's support for an exemption from a civil right for gays unleashed long-simmering campus tensions over the school's assertion that it has created a safe place for lesbian and gay students, while maintaining a conduct policy that singles them out. The school bars sex outside of marriage for everyone in the Gordon community, while also specifically banning "homosexual practice." OneGordon, a group for gay students, alumni and their allies, is now pressing the college to eliminate the language.
"There should be the same sexual ethic for LGBT and heterosexual students," said Paul O. Miller, an alumnus and co-founder of OneGordon.
The uproar over Lindsay's letter also prompted local community leaders to take another look at Gordon'spolicies. The college hires gays and lesbians, but because of the ban on "homosexual practice," effectively requires them to be celibate. Mayor Kim Driscoll of Salem responded by ending Gordon's contract to manage the city's Old Town Hall. Salem's Peabody Essex Museum ended its academic relationship with the school and withdrew support for Gordon's grant application to the National Endowment for the Humanities. The New England Association of Schools & Colleges started a review of the controversy.
Some community leaders said they didn't know before that Gordon was an evangelical institution, or didn't fully understand what that meant.
"I had no idea that Gordon was even a Christian school," said Rick Starbard, a Lynn public school teacher for 14 years and a School Committee member for five. The committee voted 4-3 in late August to end its 11-year partnership between Gordon and Lynn public schools over Lindsay's position. Thousands of Gordon volunteers had taught English to refugees, installed art in public elementary schools, distributed toys and gift cards at Christmas and helped students with their homework. Gordon had an office downtown, with a director who joined the boards of several local service agencies.
"Anybody can have the personal beliefs that they want, but it does become different when you play in a public school," said Starbard, who nonetheless voted to keep the partnership with Gordon. "I think there was a knee-jerk reaction to this and people didn't think out the long-term implications."
Tucked into a forested corner of a small town, Gordon is known for staying out of public fights on divisive social issues. When the Massachusetts Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage in 2003, making the state the first in the country to do so, then-Gordon president Judson Carlberg issued no public statement.
Among its peers in Christian higher education, Gordon sits on the liberal end of the spectrum. The college upholds the Bible as the authoritative word of God while providing the "freedom to offer constructive criticism of this tradition." Evolution is taught in the science program. Draped nude models are used for art students learning to draw the body — unusual in Christian art programs. An alcohol ban is only for campus and school events, instead of the blanket prohibition sometimes found at other evangelical schools. The 1,700 or so undergraduates are encouraged to respect different views of what it means to be Christian.
"Unity does not mean sameness," Gordon professor Sharon Ketcham told students at a chapel service this semester. "No one here is asking you to be the same."
Yet, the school is grounded in conservative Christian beliefs. At the campus entrance, on a sign between two granite pillars, the school spells out its mission to instill "Christian character" in students.
"I'm OK in civil society for there to be civil unions, insurance rights, domestic partnerships, all those kinds of things," Lindsay said. "But the difference here I think we need to pay attention to — this is a religious institution that presumably might be asked to betray one of its core convictions."
Lindsay said he has received several offers from legal groups who want to represent Gordon in lawsuits that would allege the broken partnerships amounted to unconstitutional retaliation for free speech. He insists he will not take that path. Instead, he has been working to ease the controversy.
He has met with faculty and staff and with gay students and alumni. He spoke to a teachers' union in nearby Georgetown, which agreed to continue to host Gordon student-teachers, and sent letters to superintendents of other public schools where Gordon students trained.
When the fall semester began, Lindsay went to the dorms over two nights to answer questions from undergraduates. Gordon has formed a working group including trustees, students, administrators and faculty to address some of the concerns raised about the challenges for gay students on campus. The group, which includes a gay student and some faculty who oppose the current life and conduct statement, will meet through February.
Lindsay, meanwhile, said he wouldn't be taking public stands in the future on any politically charged issues.
"He made a mistake in signing it," said James Trent, a sociologist and Gordon professor for 11 years who supports eliminating the ban on "homosexual practice." ''The middle ground begins to wear when you're oppressing people. How do you slightly oppress someone?”
By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer

October 18, 2014

Houston Backs Down in Reviewing Pastors’ Sermons about Political Issues


Houston city attorneys are no longer seeking through subpoenas sermons from five pastors who publicly opposed an ordinance banning discrimination against gay and transgender residents.
Mayor Annise Parker said on Friday that the city was backing off the sermon request but would not withdraw the subpoenas, which seek other information from the pastors as part of a lawsuit over a petition drive to repeal the equal rights ordinance.
“They were too broad,” Parker said at a news conference. “They were typical attorney language in a discovery motion. They were asking for everything but the kitchen sink.”
While the word “sermons” was being deleted from the subpoenas, the revised request for other speeches or presentations was appropriate, Parker said.
“This is not about what anyone is preaching; this is not about their religion; it’s not about the free exercise of religion,” she said. “It is our right to defend the city and asking legitimate questions about the petition process.”
In May, the city council passed the equal rights ordinance, which consolidates city bans on discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion and other categories and increases protections for gay and transgender residents. Parker, who is gay, and other supporters said the measure is about offering protections at the local level against all forms of discrimination in housing, employment and services provided by private businesses such as hotels and restaurants.
Religious institutions are exempt, but city attorneys recently subpoenaed the pastors, seeking all speeches, presentations or sermons related to the repeal petition.
Christian activists had sued after city officials ruled they did not collect enough signatures to get the question on the ballot. The city secretary initially counted enough signatures, but then the city attorney David Feldman ruled that more than half of the pages of the petition were invalid.
Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian religious rights legal organisation that filed the motion to quash the subpoenas, said the city “still doesn’t get it”.
“It thinks that by changing nothing in its subpoenas other than to remove the word ‘sermons’ that it has solved the problem,” Stanley said. “That solves nothing.”
Subpoenas still demand 17 different categories of information that encompass speeches made by the pastors and private communications with their church members, he said.
“They must be rescinded entirely,” Stanley said, contending the city needs to respect first amendment religious freedoms.
Feldman said that the subpoenas were routine in the give-and-take between lawyers in a lawsuit and that the now-contentious matter could have been defused in negotiations involving attorneys for both sides.
“They decided to make it a media circus,” he said.
The controversy has touched a nerve among religious conservatives around the country, already anxious about the rapid spread of gay rights and what it might mean for faith groups that object. Religious groups, including some that support civil rights protections for gays, have protested the subpoenas as a violation of religious freedom.

Previous: subpoena

October 16, 2014

Why Religious Leaders Belly Flop When Judges go Against Them? Find Out…

Time and again, gay marriage opponents have struck out in court, and time and again, they have reacted with rage, screaming on social media and cable news that biased judges are imposing their liberal agenda. That’s easier than admitting the truth: Once gay marriage critics get in front of a judge, they advance arguments that amount to little more than self-contradictory mumbo jumbo.

I don’t want to coach these folks on how to succeed, but if they hope to stop gays from marrying, they need a case that has more intellectual heft than “I don’t like what those folks do, but don’t ask me to tell you why.”

They can’t reveal their real reason: religion (homophobia is in there for a lot of them, but let’s stick with those acting on their faith). God wants, Jesus wants, the Bible says—that’s the song outside of court. They also toss in the concept that “traditional marriage” is between a man and a woman—as if the past must always determine the future, a view that would have segregation in place today, tomorrow and forever. But even that belief tends to be advanced by its supporters as biblically derived. 

The problem there is that Yahweh v. Sodom is not binding legal precedent. It’s a conundrum for gay marriage opponents: The primary motivation driving many of them can’t be raised in court. Neither can the second most important: personal distaste for homosexuality. That leaves them scrambling for justifications, with the result that each rationale is sillier than the last.

For a wonderful example, look at the ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in gay marriage cases that named Idaho and Nevada as defendants, which the Supreme Court recently let stand. (Nevada withdrew its briefs before the decision, but state officials remained parties.) The decision, handed down October 7, is a laugh riot. And sometimes that’s because the author, Judge Stephen Reinhardt, just recites the defendants’ contentions.

Start with the biggest knee-slapper: Gay marriage will turn opposite-sex couples into druggies, alcoholics and philanderers, while also leading them to work too much and take on time-consuming hobbies. Forget that it’s irrelevant whether others will react badly to third parties being granted rights. Instead, the appeals court gives the argument the respect it deserves: “We seriously doubt that allowing committed same-sex couples to settle down in legally recognized marriages will drive opposite-sex couples to sex, drugs, and rock and roll.”

That is followed by another head-scratcher from the anti-gay-marriagers: If homosexuals can wed, men will run away from straight marriages. Or couples won’t marry at all because marriage will no longer seem important.

What’s the logic here? Hold on to your tinfoil hat: Fathers in straight marriages (only fathers, for some reason) will see married lesbians raising children and decide, “Well, I guess kids don’t need dads. So I’ll be on my way.” It is hard to tell what is more disquieting: that the anti-’s dismiss the primacy of paternal love or the idea that fathers are so stupid they’ll decide what role they’ll play in their children’s lives based on what the couple down the street do.

Reinhardt dismissed that argument for what it is—disgusting. “This proposition represents a crass and callous view of parental love and the parental bond that is not worthy of response,” he wrote.

This underscores a big problem with the entire “I hate gay marriage for nonreligious reasons” facade: It leads anti-’s to dismiss the two precious, life-affirming experiences of marriage and parenthood as nothing more than a construct imposed by the statehouse. In fact, if some straight couples break up or don’t get married because they see gay people wed, well…good! If those people allow the actions of strangers to undermine their lifetime commitment to each other, they never should have married in the first place. At least this would help keep the divorce rate down.

In fact, divorce is the elephant in the room that exposes the hypocrisy of opponents of gay marriage. They trundle out these arguments that allowing gays to marry will hurt straight marriage, while ignoring the fact that divorce is the greatest threat to that institution.
Why don’t they combat divorce instead? Probably because evangelical Christians love divorce. They are some of the divorciest Americans out there. Jesus, who said not a word about homosexuality, was quite firm that divorcing and remarrying violated the Ten Commandments, because he considered that adultery. But these religious folks are so busy pointing out splinters in the eyes of others that they ignore the planks in their own.

If anyone doubts evangelicals are hard-core marital abdicators, check out an article earlier this year in Christianity Today headlined “Are Evangelicals Bad for Marriage?” The lead paragraph sums it up: “Evangelicals are more likely to be divorced than the average American—even Americans who claim no religion.”

For this reason, arguments against gay marriage relating to the impact on “traditional” marriage should be ignored. Until states put as much effort into stopping divorce—which they will never do—they shouldn’t be allowed to suggest gay marriage harms straight marriage. Get rid of divorce and Las Vegas matrimonial chapels and quickie nuptials and marriage reality shows, and then, once the decay in straight marriages is addressed, the anti-’s will have a teeny bit of credibility that they care about “traditional” marriage, instead of just opposing gay weddings.

Reinhardt pointed out this hypocrisy. In his ruling, he maintained that if Idaho and Nevada wanted to preserve same-sex marriage, “they would do well to rescind the right to no-fault divorce, or to divorce altogether. Neither has done so.”

Before getting to the final absurdities suggested by the anti-gay-marriage bunch, a few observations: Straight alcoholics raise children. So do straight gun nuts who leave loaded weapons lying around. And straight parents who neglect their kids. And straight parents who leave their kids in front of televisions all day. And straight parents who call their children names. And straight parents who let their kids skip school. And straight parents who don’t know the names of their kids’ friends. And…and…and…

Point being, there are plenty of lousy parents. And no doubt, there are gay people who have the same poor decision-making or parental shortcomings. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

With that, on to the biggest justifications presented by the anti-’s: What about the children? The most common argument tends to focus on what the opponents contend are measurable differences between kids raised in gay or straight households, which, they maintain, show straight children have fewer problems later in life.

These arguments have repeatedly been dismissed by the courts as being based on statistical nonsense. But a more important point needs to be raised: So what? Imagine, for a moment, that children in gay households have greater troubles. Are the opponents saying that the state should judge which groups should be allowed to be parents based on their children’s performance in life? Teen pregnancy rates—one of the bogus statistics cited by the opponents as being high among children in gay families—are in fact very high among kids who receive abstinence-only education, so should states terminate the parental rights of those who push such teachings? Divorce has been found to be a major factor in teen suicide rates; again, should divorce be outlawed? People with guns in the home have a significantly higher incidence of their children being shot and killed; should they be refused the right to marry?

This argument about statistics regarding children raised in gay households can be accepted only if states apply it to every category of parent. This argument on children in gay marriage is just another Trojan horse used to disguise the real objections that the anti-’s are prohibited from raising in court.

Intellectual consistency is also pretty rare in the opponents’ case. For example, Nevada and Idaho argued that children do best when raised in married households, but then maintained that gays should not be allowed to marry even if they have children because the kids don’t do as well. If that seems impossible to reconcile, that’s because it is. If the states wanted to make sure kids grow up in households with married parents, then they should be championing gay marriage. After all, unmarried gay parents are already raising untold thousands of kids.

The court opinion goes straight for the jugular on this. “In extending the benefits of marriage only to people who have the capacity to procreate, while denying those same benefits to people who already have children, Idaho and Nevada demean same-sex couples and their children. Denying children resources and stigmatizing their families on this basis is illogical and unjust.”
The strangeness keeps coming. The states argue that their motivation in opposing gay marriage has nothing to do with the fact that those who might wed are homosexual. No, they say, they are fighting against allowing gays to marry because they can’t procreate. The fact that banning gay marriage harms homosexuals “is an incidental effect of, but not the reason for these laws.” The state has an interest in making sure as many children as possible are raised by biological parents, they say. And the best way to do that is to ensure that only people who can procreate can marry.

Once again, the opponents are hung by their own laws. Elderly people can’t have children. Nor infertile couples. And then there are those who have no desire for children. Yet everywhere, these people are allowed to marry.

Another fact to consider: There are adopted children all around us. According to the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law, same-sex couples are four times more likely to adopt than their counterparts, and 16 times more likely to raise foster children. Should these kids desperate for a home be denied the chance to live in a married household, which the states contend is the best environment for kids? The appeals court says no, maintaining the states’ attempt to argue that marriage is best for kids, but not for kids in gay relationships, “goes off the rails.”

What today’s opponents might not realize was that religion—and hatred—were also the bases for fighting interracial marriage, involving a theology of race related to the dispersion of Noah’s children after the flood. God, it was argued, was the original segregationist, and allowing interracial marriage violated his dictates. As Virginia Judge Leon M. Brazile wrote in 1965, “Almighty God created the races…but for the interference with His arrangement, there would be no cause for such [interracial] marriages…. He did not intend for the races to mix.”

Many courts were not always so explicit about the religious reasons for opposing interracial marriage. Instead, they took the same “What about the children?” approach as opponents of gay marriage do. In 1898, for example, Georgia’s Supreme Court ruled against interracial marriages because “the offspring of these unnatural connections are generally sickly and effeminate.… They are inferior in physical development and strength to the full blood of either race.… They are productive of evil, and evil only, without an corresponding good.”

At some point, the anti-’s are going to have to acknowledge that the tide of change is against them and they will be swept aside, just as the people who tried to stop interracial marriage were swamped. They cannot say that the religious arguments and rationalizations against interracial marriage were unjustified then while raising the same nonsense for other types of couples whose lives they want to control. They need to face facts: Theirs is the same position that those who fought interracial marriage held. History will not look kindly on them. It is time for them to stop. 

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