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

April 13, 2019

As Long As There Americans With Conscience They Will Be Coexistent WithThe LGBT Community



                           



                           
























































Jack Phillips may be able to bake cakes as his conscience dictates, but the conflict between r
religious conscience rights and the expanding rights of LGBT Americans is ongoing. Exhibit A: the Equality Act pending before Congress, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes, forcing tens of millions of Americans who hold traditional views of marriage and sexuality to conform to a new sexual worldview or face consequences. As Congress considers the Equality Act in the coming days, it’s instructive to consider the similarities between LGBT ideologues of today and the equally dogmatic 17th century Puritans; it’s possible past lessons may provide a roadmap to a peaceful resolution to today’s impasse between America’s conservative religious citizens and LGBT activists.

Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America told us the Puritans left England due to severe persecution for their beliefs, and they searched for a new land where they could live “…as they wished and pray to God in liberty.” Unfortunately, once the Puritans established their lives in New England, they eventually began persecuting citizens in the very ways they had escaped. Puritans in Connecticut passed the Code of 1650 that imposed fines and punishment which, per Tocqueville, “repeatedly intruded upon the realm of conscience.” 

The First Amendment was, in part, a response to the Puritans’ harsh penal codes. The Library of Congress displays the notes of James Madison, Father of the Constitution, from when he introduced the Bill of Rights in 1789. Madison moved that “the civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext infringed.”

And in his other writings, Madison wrote, “The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man, and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.” 

So, what does all of this have to do with LGBT activists? Like the Puritans, LGBT activists have transitioned from persecuted minority to persecuting authority.  As evidenced from recent testimony on the Equality Act, one LGBT activist, speaking on behalf of many, believes giving transgender Americans special status under the law should not even be questioned or debated.  This extreme position aside, thankfully, the First Amendment provides us a possible model for coexistence.  

LGBT activists suggest some are born with particular sexual orientations or a gender identity that might not match one’s biological sex. Whether they’re correct or not, given science’s inability to definitively prove these assertions, they are largely matters of belief and choice, not entirely dissimilar in some respects to religious belief, which also involves choice and requires faith.

If the LGBT movement is viewed through the lens of religion—instead of comparing it to race, a legally and historically faulty analogy—we might be able to find a peaceable way forward where orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews, and others will not be forced to affirm LGBT ways of life, and, conversely, where religious people would not be able to force LGBT citizens back into the closet.

To see how this could work in practice, let’s look at a recent dispute in California. Over the past year, parents have been protesting at school boards statewide because the California legislature passed laws (the FAIR Education Act and the California Healthy Youth Act) that are now being used as justification to force school children, as early as five years old, to hear that gender is on a spectrum or that you can be born with a girl's brain in a boy body.  Parents are rightly outraged.


Despite parental protests, California governments are picking LGBT views over traditional views and forcing the LGBT movement’s views on children. However, if LGBT views were treated the same as religious views, schools would not be allowed to proselytize children in regard to LGBT issues, as that would violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause by endorsing and sponsoring a religious viewpoint. LGBT proponents would still be free to proselytize in their homes, but they could not rely on the state to indoctrinate children over their dissenting parents’ objections.
Unless meaningful accommodation is reached, and if laws like the puritanical Equality Act are passed, we will likely see history repeat itself as orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc., will be forced to confess with their word and deed that they affirm an ideology that goes against their conscience and millennia of practice, and they will be forced out of their jobs and ultimately, the public square. The Obergefell majority that imposed same-sex marriage on America assured conscience protections to those who opposed same-sex marriage, but the post-Obergefell reality affirms what Justice Alito predicted when he wrote in dissent that “…those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”  

Under the First Amendment, Americans need not to abide by forced indoctrination, whether by Puritans or progressives.  And hopefully, today’s progressive agenda on sexuality goes the way of the Puritans’ harsh penal codes.  Until then, the question is whether we will reach an accommodation before our social fabric becomes too torn to repair.  Nothing less than the fate of our ordered liberty hangs in the balance.

April 5, 2019

Religious Rights Most Bow to LGBT Laws and Human/Civil Rights



                    U.S. Constitution



Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com)



U.S. ConstitutionAs Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.-Dist. 10) championed the so-called “Equality Act” in a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, he stressed that the bill would make sure religious beliefs cannot be used to “discriminate” against the LGBT community.

As the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Nadler impressed that under the Equality Act, everyone must fall subject to the LGBT agenda – with churches and religious employers, organizations and colleges being afforded no exemptions whatsoever.

“Religion is no excuse for discrimination when it comes to sexual orientation or gender identity,” Nadler asserted Tuesday in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, according to Liberty Counsel.

LGBT trumps all?

Giving testimony against the pro-LGBT bill – also known as HR 5 – was Julia Beck, who is a self-described radical lesbian feminist and the former law and policy co-chair for Baltimore’s LGBTQ Commission. She alerted the Christian community and other faith-based groups about what to expect when or if the proposed legislation passes and becomes enforced.

“This would eliminate women and girls as a coherent legal category worthy of civil rights protections,” Beck revealed, according to Liberty Counsel. “There is no way to tell if someone is lying about being transgender.”

She said that if gender identity becomes recognized under federal law, Americans can expect to see the following scenarios regularly play out:

Male rapists will go to female prisons and will likely assault female inmates – as has already happened in the UK.

Female survivors of rape will be unable to contest male presence in women’s shelters.

Men will dominate women's sports and girls who would have taken first place will be denied scholastic opportunity.

Women who use male pronouns to talk about men may be arrested, fined and banned from social media platforms.

Girls will stay home from schools when they have their periods to avoid harassment by boys in mixed-sex toilets.

Girls and women will no longer have a right to ask for female medical staff or intimate care providers – including elderly or disabled women who are at serious risk of sexual abuse.

Female security officers will no longer have the right to refuse to perform pat-down or intimate searches of males who say they’re female.

Women undergoing security checks will no longer have the right to refuse having those searches performed by men claiming a feminine identity.

And these shocking instances are by no means farfetched …

“It’s already happening,” Beck insisted. “And it's only going to get worse.”

Nip it at the bud …

Legal experts argue that the proposed legislation takes aim at wiping out Americans’ freedom of religion guaranteed by the United States Constitution – giving the LGBT community a free pass to infiltrate virtually every aspect their lives while violating their sincerely held religious beliefs.

“Members of the U.S. House of Representatives recently introduced this bill that threatens the free exercise of religion and free speech,” Liberty Counsel announced in its news release. “HR 5 amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by striking the word ‘sex,’ and inserting ‘sex, sexual orientation, gender identity’ as protected classes throughout the federal code. This amendment applies to employment, housing, rental, public accommodation and more.”

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver indicated that the bill is nothing less than a Trojan Horse used by the LGBT community to force acceptance and its agenda on society.

“Chairman Nadler and Julia Beck gave surprising testimonies at today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing confirming that the so-called ‘Equality Act’ has nothing to do with equality," Staver argued in the release. “This bill pushes the LGBT agenda on all people and targets Christianity in every area of life – including the church.”

He wared about the repercussions of passing such a dangerous piece of pro-LGBT legislation.

“There also will be an increase of sexual assaults when males ‘identifying as females’ are allowed to use girls and women's bathrooms and locker rooms,” the legal expert added. “And that is just the beginning of unconstitutional chaos in America – and even radicals can see that.”

Dr. James Dobson – who founded Focus on the Family and the James Dobson Family Institute decades later – sent an earlier warning that the Equality Act could spell disaster for Americans – if passed in Congress.

“Make no mistake – the so-called Equality Act is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to finish off religious liberty in America once and for all, which ought to be plainly obvious – based upon a cursory reading of the First Amendment,” Dobson contended, according to WND. “Simply put, by creating a protected class of citizens out of the LGBT community, this bill places Christians who believe in traditional marriage at grave legal and civil jeopardy.”

He saw no reservation by Democratic leaders to steamroll over Christians’ rights to live out their faith in order to forward their ultra-left pro-LGBT agenda.

“I wish I could say I was shocked to see the speed with which Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have brought to committee the sweet-sounding but entirely treacherous Equality Act,” Dobson continued. “This decision demonstrates a frightening willingness by those on the left to advance a radical social agenda at a time when our nation already faces so many other divisive challenges.”

According to another conservative nonprofit group, the Pelosi-backed bill would trample the religious rights of a slew of Americans.

“The Heritage Foundation said employers, workers, medical professionals, parents, children, women and nonprofit organizations all would be harmed by the plan from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.),” WND’s Bob Unruh noted.

The Christian leader pointed out the left’s deception that LGBT rights are equal to the civil rights African Americans fought for decades ago during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960 – even comparing it to slavery.

“While no evangelical Christian would ever support hate or violence of any kind against an LGBT individual – or any other person for that matter – to modify the 1964 Civil Rights Act with this wrong-headed bill would not only be legally fraught – it would also put moral equivalence to the unprecedented, centuries-long struggle of countless millions of African Americans to gain freedom from slavery and the persistent, systematic oppression that followed,” Dobson stressed.

Taking another shot at Christian freedom

Besides trying to pass the Equality Act, Nadler is attacking 1993’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the religious freedoms by which Hobby Lobby and other Christian businesses and organizations able to enjoy protections as a result of its passage.

“Bosses should not be able to make health care decisions about the reproductive choices of their employees,” Nadler said in a press release statement he released on the oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Hobby Lobby and RFRA. “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was intended to be used as a shield – not a sword. No matter how sincerely held a religious belief might be, for-profit employers – like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood – cannot wield their beliefs as a means of denying employees access to critical preventive health care services [including abortion].”

Attempting to forward the LGBT agenda, he tried to argue that Christians are trying to get more religious freedoms than what have been guaranteed to them by the Constitution.

“When we passed RFRA, we sought to restore – not expand – protection for religion,” Nadler continued.” We kept in place the core principle that religion does not excuse for-profit businesses from complying with our laws. Religious belief did not excuse restaurants or hotels from following our civil rights laws in the 1960s or an Amish employer from paying into the Social Security system in the 1980s. It should not be expanded now to allow for-profit companies to override the health care choices of female employees.”

The ultra-left Democrat then implied that Christians living according to biblical teachings on human sexuality is essentially them pushing religious beliefs on others.


“To hold otherwise allows the owners of for-profit companies to impose their beliefs on others – their employees and patrons – who may not share their beliefs and who will be harmed as result. I am hopeful that the Court will confirm that these sort of discriminatory actions by for-profit companies are neither protected by RFRA nor the First Amendment.”

February 26, 2019

Friendly Homes At Dumfries Church For LGBT Will Bring Gay People To Live At The Town Centre






 It is one of Dumfries' most prominent buildings.
Greyfriars Church - now St Bride's - has stood proudly at one end of the High Street for more than 150 years.
It could now be set to find a role few would have imagined when it was completed back in the 1860s.
A funding package has been put in place to explore the creation of LGBT-friendly housing on the site - particularly aimed at older members of the community.
Presentational white space
Church doors
Image captionThe church hopes the plan could help the building "pay for itself"
Presentational white space
The rationale? It might tackle three key issues in one.
Dumfries and Galloway Council is keen to encourage town centre living, the church is struggling to meet its running costs and it could help what is seen as a vulnerable group.
Leading the project team is Dr Belle Doyle who said the scheme was at a very early stage.
"It is more or less an investigation of whether we can do it," she said.
"The St Bride's Anglican Church - who I have been working for - have been looking at the future of the church.
"One of the problems is it is a massive church and there are not many people using it now." The trustees have been looking at ways to make the "really iconic" building pay for itself.
The church would continue to operate, possibly with a smaller footprint, with the property to rent built at the back.
"The idea was to build something at the back that would pay a bit of ground rent or something to keep the church going," explained Dr Doyle.
However, as a category A listed building, there are quite a few hurdles to be cleared.
"From the front of the building, if you were standing at Burns Statue, you shouldn't be able to see any development that was happening at the back of the building," she said.
"That vista would not be disturbed at all."
Side of church
Image captionDumfries and Galloway Council has provided financial support to exploring the plans
Dr Doyle said that they wanted the housing project to be something a little bit different.
"We wanted to make it kind of special, in a way, that we could invite a group to think about how they could live in the town centre and what would be a vulnerable group we could approach that would actually find that useful," she explained.
"I've been involved with the LGBT group in Dumfries and Galloway even before it was called LGBT.
"I know a lot of people who, even though they love living in the area, people are getting older, they are getting slightly more isolated."
She said she believed the attractions of town centre living might appeal to them.
"Here is a vulnerable group that would definitely seize the chance of living a more urban lifestyle," she said.
Dyfrig HywelImage copyrightDYFRIG HYWEL
Image captionDyfrig Hywel said the homes might allow people to "finally be themselves"
They are working with a housing association on the plans which they believe could become a template for developing redundant churches or ones struggling with their upkeep.
The idea would be to create something "cutting edge" at the back of a historic sandstone structure.
"The most important thing for us is people are very positive about the housing and the fact they are in the middle of Dumfries," said Dr Doyle.
"Obviously you would want people to be open and friendly to their neighbours regardless of who their neighbours were.
"There is not much of a social life which is why LGBT people have always gravitated to cities because there is a kind of 'critical mass' almost.
"If there is a large enough group you become the majority, you are taken seriously at that point.
"It is not just one or two people and they are isolated and you can bully or intimidate them."

'Really vulnerable'

Ian Barber and Dyfrig Hywel, who are members of the project board, said they believed there was a need for the housing.
"One type of people that might be living there is the elderly - people having to go back into the closet when they go into care," said Mr Hywel.
"We have got other people who come out of the closet in their 60s when their parents die.
"Despite the huge progress in society they are still really, really vulnerable people."
"There is also a huge issue with older LGBT people and care," added Mr Barber.
"People coming into their homes to deliver personal care not realising they are LGBT, not realising the other person there is actually their partner.
"Having to move into a care home or nursing home - there are still all sorts of issues. The development at the church is trying to, in some way, answer those needs."
Dumfries town centreImage copyrightBILLY MCCRORIE
Image captionDumfries and Galloway Council is keen to see people live in the town centre
Mr Hywel said peer support was becoming "more and more important" although he accepted the project might not appeal to everyone.
"It is a bit of a Marmite one - some people will like it, some people won't," he said.
"There is no doubt there is a need, however the people that need it are not going to be public about it necessarily because some of them will be vulnerable and isolated."
"It is good for the town because it is bringing more people to live in the town," said Mr Barber.
"There is all this discussion about the future of Dumfries now and we need to bring more people to live in the town centre."

'Long-term future'

"Inter-generational projects are very important - older people have a lot to give to younger ones and vice-versa," added Mr Hywel. "This could be life-changing for some individuals - they could finally be themselves."
The local authority, for its part, said it took great pride in being an "inclusive council".
"We are also keen to get people back living in Dumfries town centre," a spokesman said.
"Rethinking how the church is used may provide it with a long-term sustainable future.
"The trustees are fully aware of the iconic status this listed building has within the town and would like to see a future use that benefits the local LGBT community and supports the regeneration of Dumfries town centre."
The council recently committed a little more than £45,000 to help take the project forward.
If it is delivered, the people behind it hope it might become a template used in other parts of the country.

July 24, 2018

Leviticus Chapter 18 is Not as Anti Gay As Many Have Wrongly Interpreted It

In Leviticus 18:22 and especially in Leviticus 20:13 we are no longer faced with “small” but obvious errors of translation where the sacred prostitutes or the inhabitants of a small village on the shores of the Dead Sea were converted into homosexuals and rejected by the god of Israel. Here we are faced, or rather, believers (Christians, Jews and Muslims) are faced with a moral dilemma of the first order. Should gays die? Should they be executed as outlined in God’s law?


Leviticus 18:22. The text.

Although no original texts are available, regardless of whether we take the Septuagint version of the Bible translated into Greek (III BC), or the Jewish Masoretic (X century AD), which are the oldest available texts, we can find a Similar construction in them that would literally translate as:
“With man you will not sleep bed woman is detestable.”
Leviticus 18:22 in Greek:
“ka i meta arsenosou (male) koimethese (lie down) koiten (bed) gunaikein (woman) bdelygma(detestable) gar esti”
Leviticus 18:22 in Hebrew:
“hî   tō·w·‘ê·ḇāh (detestable) ’iš·šāh (women); miš·kə·ḇê (bed) tiš·kaḇ (lie down) lō   zā·ḵār (man) wə·’eṯ-”
It is obvious that the phrase “with man you will not sleep bed woman” has no explicit meaning, and that we must make sense out of it.
The most “modern” Christian tradition wanted to see a general condemnation of both behavior and homosexual orientation in this text, although current theologians, such as the Protestant R. Lings, tell us that there are at least 12 possible interpretations of this text, none of them related to homosexuality.

🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈
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When trying to interpret any chapter from the bible you just can't take a single text. Just like a conversation. Also you need to know if not who wrote it but how many people had input into it. Lastly you most interpret the bible from the greek or early hebrew. Languages change and what a puzzy in the US is not the same as in England.  A 'bicho' in Puerto rico is not the same as in Cuba or the Americas. You call someone a "bicho' in Puerto rico and you got a fight on your hands but in other places is just a mosquito. We use the word "cool" a lot, at least I do. In 1905 they would have brought me a cold drink or beer to get cool. But people that want to feel superior to others and want to do damaged to others try to find an excuse in the bible. What better excuse! except is not. We live in an era of enlightment because we have technology to takes forward but also takes us back to our roots. For instance we have known the Earth was round long before the Apollo flights into space in the 1960's but still there are thousand of people that say the earth is not round. So we can't go for a minority of idiots because they are everywhere but by the "propondence of the evidence."
🦊Adam (3 yrs Seminary graduate with 2 yrs post)



By Idan Dershowitz
Dr. Dershowitz is a biblical scholar.


No text has had a greater influence on attitudes toward gay people than the biblical book of Leviticus, which prohibits sex between men. Before Leviticus was composed, outright prohibitions against homosexual sex — whether between men or women — were practically unheard-of in the ancient world.

Chapter 18 of Leviticus contains a list of forbidden incestuous acts, followed by prohibitions against sex with a menstruating woman, bestiality, and various other sexual acts. In Verse 22, we find its most famous injunction: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 20:13 repeats this law, along with a punishment for those who violate it: “They shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.”)

Like many ancient texts, Leviticus was created gradually over a long period and includes the words of more than one writer. Many scholars believe that the section in which Leviticus 18 appears was added by a comparatively late editor, perhaps one who worked more than a century after the oldest material in the book was composed. An earlier edition of Leviticus, then, may have been silent on the matter of sex between men.

But I think a stronger claim is warranted. As I argue in an article published in the latest issue of the journal Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel, there is good evidence that an earlier version of the laws in Leviticus 18 permitted sex between men. In addition to having the prohibition against same-sex relations added to it, the earlier text, I believe, was revised in an attempt to obscure any implication that same-sex relations had once been permissible. 

The chapter’s original character, however, can be uncovered with a little detective work.

The core of Leviticus 18 is the list of incest laws, each of which includes the memorable phrase “uncover nakedness.” This is typically understood as a euphemism for sexual intercourse, so “you shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister” would mean something like “do not have sex with your father’s sister.”

Most of the incest laws are presented in a straightforward manner, but two are not. The first exception is: “The nakedness of your father and the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness” (emphasis mine). At first, this verse appears to outlaw sex between a man and either of his parents. However, the italicized explanation, or gloss, suggests that the law actually addresses only one parent: the mother. It is difficult to reconcile the two parts of this sentence.

The same thing happens again a few verses later: “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother.” Simple enough, right? The following gloss, however, may give you whiplash: “you shall not approach his wife, she is your aunt.” By the time we’ve finished reading the gloss, a prohibition against intercourse between a man and his paternal uncle has transformed into a law about sex between a man and that uncle’s wife.

Each verse in Leviticus 18’s series of incest laws contains a similar gloss, but the others are merely emphatic, driving home the point. (For example, “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.”) Only in these two cases — the father and mother, and the father’s brother — do the glosses alter our understanding of what is prohibited. A law prohibiting sex with one’s father fades away, and a law against sex with one’s uncle is reinterpreted as a ban on sex with one’s aunt.

What we have here is strong evidence of editorial intervention.

It is worth noting that these new glosses render the idiom “uncover nakedness” incoherent. The phrase can no longer denote sex if uncovering the nakedness of one’s father is an act that also involves one’s mother — as the gloss implies. 

But more strikingly, the two exceptional verses are the only ones that address incest between men — all the others involve women. Once the new glosses were added to the text, the prohibitions in Leviticus against incest no longer outlawed any same-sex couplings; only heterosexual pairs were forbidden.

If a later editor of Leviticus opposed homosexual intercourse, you might wonder, wouldn’t it have made more sense for him (and it was probably him) to leave the original bans on homosexual incest intact?

No. The key to understanding this editorial decision is the concept of “the exception proves the rule.” According to this principle, the presence of an exception indicates the existence of a broader rule. For example, a sign declaring an office to be closed on Sundays suggests that the office is open on all other days of the week.

Now, apply this principle to Leviticus 18: A law declaring that homosexual incest is prohibited could reasonably be taken to indicate that non-incestuous homosexual intercourse is permitted.

A lawmaker is unlikely to specify that murdering one’s father is against the law if there is already a blanket injunction against murder. By the same token, it’s not necessary to stipulate that sex between two specific men is forbidden if a categorical prohibition against sex between men is already on the books.

It seems that with the later introduction in Leviticus of a law banning all male homosexual intercourse, it became expedient to bring the earlier material up-to-date by doing away with two now-superfluous injunctions against homosexual incest — injunctions that made sense when sex between men was otherwise allowed. 

This editor’s decision to neutralize old laws by writing new glosses, instead of deleting the laws altogether, is serendipitous: He left behind just enough clues for his handiwork to be perceptible.

One can only imagine how different the history of civilization might have been had the earlier version of Leviticus 18’s laws entered the biblical canon.

Idan Dershowitz (@IdanDershowitz) is a biblical scholar and junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter. 
A version of this article appears in print on July 22, 2018






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 14, 2018

Catholic Church of Ireland Says Anti Gay Language from The Church Must Stop




DUBLIN — An Irish group campaigning for reform in the Catholic Church has launched a petition ahead of Pope Francis' papal visit in August to Ireland calling on the Vatican to change its "theological language that is gravely insulting to LGBTQI people." (The initials stand for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.")  
We Are Church Ireland is encouraging anyone offended or angered by the church's use of terms such as "objectively disordered" and "intrinsically evil" in relation to LGBTQI people to sign their petition.
Spokesman for the group, Brendan Butler, said the petition demands an end to the Vatican's "un-Christian language to describe our LGBTQI sisters and brothers."
"For an institution like the Catholic Church to teach that these words are an expression of the mind of God to describe her image in LGBTQI persons is not alone scandalous but blasphemous," he criticized.
The petition is being spearheaded by former political correspondent at TV3 in Ireland, Ursula Halligan, along with Irish Senator David Norris and Pádraig Ó Tuama, leader of the Corrymeela peace community. 
Explaining their involvement, the trio have said that the church's formal language makes the institutional church complicit in the marginalization of LGBTQI people.
"Under the guise of religion and faith, the church models intolerance, breeds prejudices, and attempts to justify discrimination," they criticized in a statement.
Senator David Norris, a member of the Anglican community, has for decades campaigned for the decriminalization of homosexuality which was achieved in 1993. He is highly critical of the Christian churches' treatment of LGBTQI people.
"As a believing and church-going Christian I have to say that the history of the Christian churches in relation to gay people is a shocking record of criminality and brutality," he said. "At the instigation of the churches, gay people have been routinely ostracized, tortured and murdered. It is unacceptable that there should be any continuation of the savage and insensitive language employed by some of the churches in dealing with gay people. It is salutary to remember that Jesus Christ not once mentions or condemns homosexuality."
Norris, Halligan and Ó Tuama feel it is "imperative" for them to "boldly speak out" against the church's "continued insistence on calling the LGBTQI community's 'inclinations' as 'objectively disordered' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358), or even worse, 'ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil' (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Person, 1986)." The group has called on the church to formally change its language about the countless LGBTQI people "whose lives benefit the church and who are impacted by such diminishing language."
"As a gay Catholic, I do not recognize myself in the language used about me in the church's documents or teachings," said Ó Tuama, who acts as leader of the Corrymeela Community, Northern Ireland's oldest peace and reconciliation organization. "The Gospels depict the dignity of humanity, especially those who were castigated or marginalized. The church would be more faithful to its witness to use language that builds bridges rather than diminishes dignity."
"If a business or company were to use such language, they would be publicly reprimanded and penalized by the state. The hierarchical church needs to wash its mouth out before speaking about LGBTQI people," Halligan, journalist in residence at Dublin City University, criticized.
The petition was launched June 7, and members of We Are Church's international network have been signing up. Representatives of We Are Church Ireland have brought it to the attention of the fourth conference of the International Church Reform Network which is taking place June 11-15 in Bratislava, Slovakia. It is hoped that the representatives from these other church reform groups will support the petition and bring it to their membership around the world.
According to Butler, the petition is only the first step in a much more far-reaching campaign for a rethink of the church's theology of human sexuality. "There has to be a change in culture within the institutional church first of all," he told NCR. But with the majority of bishops having been appointed under Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II, he doesn't see that happening any time soon. Nor does he see LGBTQI Catholics leading change as "most of them have given up" and have left the church.
"It is only a few who remain," he said. "So many have walked away because they believe it is a waste of time. They fought for years but eventually gave up."
Butler detects a backlash within the Catholic Church against a more compassionate approach on LGBTQI people led by traditional Catholics in the U.S. promoting an Old Testament view of homosexuality as wrong and evil.
"It needs leadership from the top while we're pushing from the bottom," Butler said. "Pope Francis has asked people to bring the ideas to him, so that is what we are trying to do. I know he is under pressure, but at the end of the day he has to leave his mark on the church and he has to show leadership too and give direction by saying that this kind of language should no longer be used in connection with any gay person."

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Pádraig Ó Tuama, Ursula Halligan and Sen. David Norris in front of the papal cross in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. (Colm Homes/Courtesy of We Are Church Ireland) 
Halligan believes the "hierarchical Catholic Church needs to get to know Catholic LGBTQI people. We are part of God's creation too and we're not going away. Deep, mutual listening can bring about deep, mutual healing and open up new ways of seeing things."
She described Pope Francis as "a wizard at the spontaneous symbolic gesture that captures world attention" and added that before any more theology is done the pope needs to call a global meeting of Catholic LGBTQI people in Rome and start a dialogue.
"I am confident that out of such dialogue the seeds of a new theology on human sexuality will emerge; one based on flesh and blood human persons and not on the theoretical abstractions of a tiny elite in the church," she said.
As a gay woman, Halligan recalled her hurt at the language the church uses to describe her sexuality. "I felt physically sick the first time I read the official church's position on homosexuality," she said. "I felt diminished and wounded as a person. Deep in my heart I knew God didn't see me like that and it made me wonder why the Catholic Church did?"
"Abuse isn't just a physical thing. Words, used negatively, can be equally abusive. If school yard bullies used the language of the Catholic Church, they'd be disciplined, sent home or away on a rehabilitation program," she continued.
One of the groups at the conference in Bratislava likely to support the petition is New Ways Ministry, led by Loretto Sr. Jeannine Gramick. This group has its own statement for which it is seeking an endorsement from the reform conference in Bratislava, concerning the World Meeting of Families — scheduled for Aug. 21-26 in Dublin — and the exclusion of LGBT families. The issue has dogged the World Meeting of Families since the controversy surrounding an image of a lesbian couple being removed from a resource booklet and a comment made by Los Angeles Bishop David O'Connell that the existence of gay couples was edited out of a resource video.
In their statement, New Ways Ministry notes that Francis has been meeting regularly with survivors of sexual abuse to listen to their stories, and calls on the pope to meet LGBT families, who they say, "have long suffered from another form of clerical abuse."
The group believes LGBT families should be invited to make presentations as part of the official program of World Meeting of Families so that the participants, and the whole church, can hear their stories.
"What arrangements are being made to guarantee that at least one of the five families who will give witness at WMF will be an LGBT family? Will the program include any parents who have LGBT children? Will a same-gender couple testify about the joys and difficulties of raising children? Will participants hear from a transgender person about their experience of family? Will even one such event happen?" New Ways Ministry challenges in its statement.
Perhaps one chink of light is the invitation to Jesuit Fr. James Martin to give a keynote presentation at the World Meeting of Families Congress in Dublin on how parishes can welcome LGBT Catholics, as well as their parents and families.
Speaking to America magazine, Martin said of the invitation, "The message to LGBT Catholics seems straightforward: you're an important part of the church."
"I'm tremendously grateful for this invitation, not so much for what it says about my own ministry or writing but what it says to LGBT Catholics, a group of people who have for so long felt excluded," added Martin, who has been targeted by conservatives over his outreach to the LGBT community. "I hope they see this invitation, which had to be approved by the Vatican, as an unmistakable sign of welcome from the church."
[Sarah Mac Donald is a freelance journalist based in Dublin.]
National Catholic Reporter

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