Showing posts with label Religion/homophobia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion/homophobia. Show all posts

August 22, 2019

Evangelicals Are Most Likely To Adopt BUT What Happens When The Adoptee is Also LGBT?


                               


Comedian Joel Kim Booster performs onstage during the TBS Comedy Festival in 2017. (Getty)
                       
Evangelical Christians are the religious group most likely to adopt but are also most likely to oppose homosexuality, which can make life complicated for gay adopted kids.


Late one night a few years ago, my 14-year-old daughter, Kayla, texted me. 
She’d prefixed her contact name in my cellphone to read “911,” a way of asserting her significance in my life. Seeing it always made me smile. It was after midnight, but I dutifully respondedText bubbles danced for long moments on my screen before her next message popped up:
I blinked. My finger hovered uncertainly over my iPhone screen as I read and reread her text.

My husband and I had adopted Kayla and her brother, Devon, out of foster care over a decade earlier. When she first came to live with us, she was 2, with dimples, gobs of curly hair, and an offbeat sense of humor. Her freckle-faced brother, Devon, was 3. Kayla didn’t yet have a conscious awareness of her sexual identity, and it didn’t occur to me she might be gay. I was far more concerned about her low self-esteem and difficulties with attachment as she adjusted into our family.
I was raised in the heady, evangelical Christian movement of the ’80s and ’90s. For many years, I unquestioningly accepted the belief that homosexuality was wrong and a behavioral choice, but during my thirties, I became disenchanted with the religion of my youth. I reconsidered the tenets of my faith and the shortfalls of organized religion and its anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-gun political agenda.
During that time, my conservative ideology shifted, including my stance on LGBTQ issues. I worked from home and often chatted over IM with my coworker Brian about our kids. He had an adopted teenage son, a few years older than my kids, and was the most devoted and involved dad I knew. I imagined his family — his wife and son — to be happy and close just like my own family.
But Brian didn’t have a wife. I eventually discovered he had a partner named Chris. They’d been together for more years than most married couples I knew, defying the evangelical stereotype of gay men as unfit parents, incapable of monogamy. Despite the prejudice against same-sex couples, they were successfully raising a happy and healthy adopted son. Witnessing this reality, I was compelled to evaluate my beliefs about the LGBTQ community and my positions on issues like gay marriage and adoption.
After years of soul-searching, I left the evangelical church behind. I embraced a more progressive Christianity — one that would prepare me for the late-night texting with my daughter only a couple years later.
Swikar Patel for BuzzFeed N
Portrait of Kayla Williams and her dog, Pocket, in her Charlotte home on July 28. Pocket can only walk for a little bit, so Williams often carries her most of the way.
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That night, when Kayla nervously texted me, I wasn’t conflicted about her sexuality. The only reason my finger hovered over my iPhone screen was that I wasn’t sure how to formulate a response that would adequately assure her of my love and acceptance.
Afraid to let the seconds stretch into a message of their own, I responded: 
 Kayla has since had two girlfriends and has come out to friends and family. As I’ve watched her blossom into her authentic self, I’m haunted by how things could have gone so differently for her if my religious convictions had not evolved.
Our situation is not unique. According to the Adoption Network, there are 135,000 children adopted each year, most from foster care, like Kayla was. And based on a 2014 UCLA School of Law study, more than 1 in 5 kids in the foster care system is LGBTQ.
Conservative Christians are the religious group most likely to adopt, but also the group most likely to oppose homosexuality. Many Christian adopters are licensed by faith-based agencies like the one I adopted through.
These agencies, which historically do not work with LGBTQ couples, are the cornerstone of the child welfare system in the US. For example, according to a 2017 story in the Arkansas Times, a single faith-based organization recruits over half the state’s foster homes. Faith-based agencies’ ubiquity has led to ongoing legal battles over whether faith-based agencies who refuse to work with same-sex couples should continue to receive government funding.
In the meantime, LGBTQ adoptees placed in anti-gay families by faith-based agencies face all sorts of difficulties — and significant long-term impacts to their health and well-being.  Every adoption, no matter how positive, starts with separation and loss. Some situations are more challenging than others. For example, children adopted out of foster care or orphanages may have been neglected, abused, or abandoned. According to a report by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, trauma like this, especially during the first five years of life, when the brain is most vulnerable, can cause a child’s brain not to develop optimally.
“Children who are abused and neglected early in life can internalize loss and betrayal. They view the world as unsafe and unpredictable,” said Forrest Lien of Lifespan Trauma Consulting. “Adoption doesn’t erase these impacts. Even in the most nurturing and loving of homes, healing these deep hurts takes years as well as effective professional intervention.” Research shows children with early childhood trauma are at higher risk for substance abuse, incarceration, mental health issues, and chronic physical diseases than their peers.
Adoptees have a lot stacked against them even if they don’t have to wrestle with their sexual identity in a family that might be anti-gay. “A sense of rejection is already present for the adopted foster child. Being rejected for a fundamental part of ‘self’ cuts even deeper,” explained Kelly Crenshaw, a reverend based in Maryland who advocates for LGBTQ youth. “It’s another piece of baggage to carry through life that just makes things more complicated: Are people going to accept me? Will I be allowed to date? Do I have to hide my real self? What if my family doesn’t want me anymore?”
When we went through the process to adopt Kayla, a toddler at the time, our Christian agency didn’t ask how we would feel if we later discovered she was LGBTQ. Like Kayla, many children are adopted too young to be aware of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and it’s the furthest thing from the minds of their adoptive parents when they jump in heart-first. 
That said, conservative Christians don’t necessarily shy away from adopting children who think they are gay. Many view homosexuality as the behavior they can help the child overcome — like overeating or lying. These adapters are confident that with proper parenting and religious instruction, they can keep their child from the “homosexual lifestyle.” This is the sincere, albeit ignorant, belief of most conservative Christians.
Unfortunately, even the most sincere convictions, by the most well-intentioned people, can be incredibly damaging. Alex was adopted into a loving family and attended a Christian school from kindergarten through 12th grade. He appeared to have it all — a private school education, devoted parents, and the affluence to go on expensive vacations. Alex was also gay. 
He first began to grapple with his sexual identity in third grade when his Christian school classmates mocked his seemingly effeminate behavior. Even though he knew he likely was gay, he sensed it was something to be ashamed of. He’d heard his mother make snarky comments like, “Don’t act like such a girl.” And in school and church, the message was loud and clear: Christians can’t be gay.
Alex became convinced something was intrinsically wrong with him. He was uncomfortable at school, church, and home. “I didn’t want to be gay. For the longest time I suppressed who I was. I tried to ignore it,” he told me in an interview in June. “I would pray about it and beg God to change me.” He even tried masturbating while imagining girls, but nothing worked.
In high school, Alex’s teacher cornered him one day after their Marriage and Family class. She had spent the last few weeks teaching about “the life cycle of the homosexual man” and the unavoidable, tragic consequences faced by those who acted on same-sex attraction. She asked Alex if he was struggling with homosexual feelings and said it was common for adopted kids, especially if they had domineering mothers and passive fathers. While pressuring him to confess, the teacher assured Alex that he could be fixed.
Despite her persistence, Alex adamantly denied he was gay. After all, the “fix” for gayness would have included prayer, Bible study, being forced to embrace “correct” gendered behavior, and school discipline — including possible expulsion. 
These are common approaches among many conservative Christian parents, churches, and other institutions. Focus on the Family, an evangelical organization that’s a leading authority in conservative Christian circles, says on its website, “Homosexual behavior is just one of the many sins God forgives and brings people out of.” Based on this ideology, some evangelical parents may enroll their LGBTQ kids in classes or programs designed to help those “confused about their sexuality” accept “God’s best” for their lives — heterosexuality.
Conversion therapy is another destructive practice, explored in recent films like Boy Erased and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. While the recently reintroduced “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” includes protections to safeguard adopted children from conversion therapy, it continues to be a frightening option in most states.
According to the Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, these damaging practices are startlingly common. “In some cases, adoptive parents who are not supportive of their LGBTQ children may attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity,” says Amy E. Green, director of research for the Trevor Project. “In fact, 2 in 3 LGBTQ youth reported that someone tried to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, which resulted in almost triple the rate of youth attempting suicide in the past year.”
Alex kept his secret throughout high school and only began to understand being gay wasn’t dirty or wrong when he was exposed to a wider swath of people and ideas during college. He began to live openly with his friends but still kept the secret from his parents. He says, “I was nervous if they found out, they’d cut me off and I’d be on my own. I avoided spending a lot of time with them because I had to act differently around them. I was always afraid of slipping up.” 
Now 23 years old, Alex has earned a college degree and recently started a new job. He asked that I not use his real name for this story because he still hasn’t come out to his adoptive parents. He is uncertain what their response will be but says he won’t breathe easy until he knows he’s able to independently support himself. According to a 2015 Pew Research survey, only 30% of the members of the largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptists, believe homosexuality should be accepted in society. This statistic might drop even lower if the respondents were asked if they believe homosexuality should be accepted in their own family.
“When LGBTQ young people see their sexual orientation or gender identity up for public debate using harmful rhetoric, they can feel that their lives are worth less than their straight or cisgender peers,” says Green. The statistics bear this out with disproportionately higher suicide rates and soaring homelessness among LGBTQ youth. 
“Until they really get to know LGBTQ people — including LGBTQ Christians — and hear our stories, some Christians have mistaken beliefs about us and our lives,” says Justin Lee, an LGBTQ Christian activist and the author of 2012’s Torn: Rescuing The Gospel From the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate. “In many cases, they think they’re showing ‘tough love’ and actually helping us with their hurtful language. But because they’ve never walked in our shoes, they don’t realize how their words push people away from their own families and even from their faith.”
Over the last handful of years, many conservative Christian churches and institutions have recognized how alienating their anti-gay agenda can be and have consequently changed their language around the issue. Some nonaffirming church denominations, including the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, Southern Baptist Convention, and Assemblies of God, offer programs for those struggling with “unwanted” same-sex attraction but are unwilling to accept for membership those who are out and plan to remain so.
Others, like the popular megachurch Hillsong, “welcome” members of the LGBTQ community, while not actually affirming them. LGBTQ people are encouraged to attend, but they cannot occupy roles of leadership in the church. And while Hillsong does not list its belief that homosexuality is sinful clearly on its website, it is documented in its statement of faith. While the language used by some of these churches has changed, their fundamental beliefs have not.
These same churches are active in the adoption movement. Crenshaw said, “I believe that many people honestly desire to help neglected and abused children. And many of those who want to help come from faith communities that promote reaching out into their communities. Unfortunately, many of these faith communities turn out to be among the more conservative of our Christian brothers and sisters.”  
Like many Christians, I became a foster parent and later adopted based on an appeal from the pulpit. The pastor of our Florida megachurch called on the congregation of more than 20,000 to single-handedly end the “orphan crisis” in our county by becoming foster parents or adopting.
The adoption mandate for Christians is rooted in James 1:27, which says pure religion is caring for orphans in distress. Many Christians view adoption as a way to walk out their faith. In addition, adoption is considered a way to offer a religious upbringing to adoptees.
Christians began to champion adoption in the early 2000s by forming adoption ministries and throwing their support behind faith-based agencies, including the agency I used. Over time, they’ve come to monopolize the adoption market, given their access to highly motivated and passionate recruits. This led to a boom in expensive and ethically dubious international adoptions, which tapered off over the last decade due to new international restrictions. However, Christians remain passionate about adopting, particularly adopting children domestically out of foster care.
Churches and faith-based organizations provide valuable support — often not found elsewhere — to adoptive families, including childcare and financial services, support, community groups, and advocacy. Each year, thousands of well-meaning Christiansinvest their money, time, energy, and other resources into adoption. 
However, their compassion is lost in translation when it comes to LGBTQ young people. “They often don’t realize how much pain they’re inflicting on LGBTQ people by refusing to accept them, but they are. It’s incredibly damaging,” says Lee.
Comedian Joel Kim Booster was born in South Korea and adopted as an infant by a conservative Christian couple from the Midwest. When Booster realized he was gay as a young child, he knew his parents would not be accepting. “I had no idea what their response would be,” he says, “but when you’re 16, you sort of assume the worst. That was the narrative at the time around conservative parents: They find out, they kick you out, and you’re fucked, or they send you to conversion therapy and you’re fucked in a whole different set of ways. I was worried about both of those outcomes.” Once they found out, Booster knew the relationship was too toxic to remain living at home, so he left.
Far too often, adopted LGBTQ children, like Booster, become the collateral damage of the anti-gay convictions of their well-meaning Christian parents. “I have worked with so many kids and teens who don’t fit in with the parents who raise them,” says Crenshaw. “They did their best to fit in, but as a square peg in a round hole; it never quite worked out.” 
Now that children are coming out as LGBTQ at younger and younger ages, many are actively exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity when they are adopted. If we had known Kayla identified as LGBTQ when we first adopted her, what might we have done with that information? Using an ideological standard to approve adoptive parents is a slippery slope, akin to what faith-based agencies have done by excluding same-sex couples from adopting. Furthermore, there are ethical and practical concerns with collecting information about the sexual orientation of kids who are being adopted.
The Family Acceptance Project (FAP) of San Francisco State University is working to change the discourse around LGBTQ acceptance from “right and wrong” to “health and wellness.” Its evidence-based research has shown this can protect the well-being of LGBTQ youth even in families where the parents believe homosexuality is wrong.
“We have found that families can learn to support their LGBTQ children when information is presented in ways that resonate with their values and beliefs — to protect their children and to help them have a good life, to strengthen and keep their families together. In essence, what we have done is to give families a different way of thinking about their LGBTQ children by shifting the discourse on homosexuality from morality to health and well-being,” wrote FAP’s director, Caitlin Ryan, in a 2014 report. 
Lee grew up in a Southern Baptist family and remains a devout Christian. He educates conservative Christian parents about the needs of their LGBTQ children and is hopeful there is a way forward for these families. He says, “Parents and children may not always agree on morals and theology, but they can still have a healthy relationship if they have healthy, open lines of communication.”
With hundreds of thousands of children waiting in foster care to be adopted, and thousands of conservative Christian families stepping up to help, these are the types of approaches needed to ensure LGBTQ adoptees grow up in healthy and nurturing homes.
I’m glad Kayla felt safe to come out to me, even if it was through a late-night text message. Now 16, she says, “First I told some of my friends and then my brother. I wanted to tell you because I felt uncomfortable whenever you talked about me dating boys. It was hard because it’s a big thing and I didn’t know what you would say.”
Kayla told me she’s relieved she doesn’t have to hide being gay from me because she’s seen how it affects her LGBTQ friends. “It stressed me and my ex-girlfriend out because her parents don’t know she is gay. She feels like she can’t tell them until she is able to move out.” 
Coming out can be a scary moment for any young person, but even more so for adopted kids. By coming out, they risk losing their tenuous, budding relationships with new family members. They may be risking everything.
Alex says he’s felt emotionally disconnected from his parents for a long time. “Our relationship could have been different if I didn’t have to hide who I was. No kid deserves to live in a family where they aren’t accepted and loved for who they are.” ●

Keri Williams lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family. She's a mental health and adoption advocate. She blogs at www.raisingdevon.com and you can find her on social media @RaisingDevon.

August 16, 2019

Trump Wants New Rule to Fire Gays Over Religious Objections



                                    Image result for religion fires gays


A new rule proposed by President Trump’s administration would allow businesses that receive federal contracts to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals according to employers’ religious beliefs, critics say.

According to the Department of Labor, the role of the proposal, which was announced Wednesday, is to “clarify the scope and application of the religious exemption.”

It’s "intended to clarify the longstanding civil rights protections afforded to religious organizations that contract with the federal government,” one official said, according to Bloomberg Law. “The proposal would ensure the “religious protections are given the same federal recognition as all other civil rights.”

But critics say that the rule would essentially let federal contractors use religious objection excuses as a defense for discriminating against workers on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity and other characteristics, such as sex, race, color, ethnicity or national origin.

The 46-page proposal “would allow federal contractors to apply for broad exemptions to civil rights law after engaging in discriminatory behavior,” The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) said in a statement. That behavior includes “firing or refusing to hire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It could also lead to federal contractors refusing to hire women or unmarried workers who are pregnant or parents, or even discrimination on the basis of race,” the statement continued. With the new rule, businesses that claim a “religious purpose” can benefit from the protection. However, the proposal expands on the meaning of a religious corporation: “The contractor must be organized for a religious purpose, meaning that it was conceived with a self-identified religious purpose. This need not be the contractor’s only purpose.”

The proposal wants to make clear that “religious exemption covers not just churches but employers that are organized for a religious purpose, hold themselves out to the public as carrying out a religious purpose, and engage in exercise of religion consistent with, and in furtherance of, a religious purpose.”

The proposed rule frustrates human rights advocates, who see it as the latest move by Trump to undermine the rights of LGBTQ individuals in the name of religious freedom. “Once again, the Trump administration is shamefully working to license taxpayer-funded discrimination in the name of religion. Nearly one-quarter of the employees in the U.S. work for an employer that has a contract with the federal government,” Ian Thompson, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said in a statement. “We will work to stop this rule that seeks to undermine our civil rights protections and encourages discrimination in the workplace.”

Mara Keisling, NCTE’s founder executive director echoed that message. “Religious freedom must be a shield to protect the marginalized, not a sword to attack them. There are few values more sacred to the equality of all in this nation than the belief that nobody should be judged by an employer because of who they are or who they love, yet this administration continually seeks to undermine that value,” she said.

“Whether it’s our right to health care, our right to housing, or our right to equal employment, we are committed to fighting every action this administration takes against us," added Keisling.

August 14, 2019

Evangelicals Are Really Turned On By Trump First Term (The Blasphemy Not So Much)





Congregants at First Baptist Dallas church celebrate Freedom Sunday. (Ilana Panich-Linsman for The Washington Post)

 Three years ago, Rickey Halbert was torn about whether to vote for President Trump. 
On the one hand, he’d read about Trump’s extramarital affairs and the women who alleged he had sexually assaulted them. Halbert, a Defense Department employee, didn’t think the candidate matched his moral compass.
Then again, he believed Trump would reduce the number of abortions in the country.
In the end, he said, that convinced him to vote for the president, like most of his fellow evangelicals.
In the years since, he’s watched as Trump restricted abortion access, rolled back gay rights and tried to reduce both legal and illegal immigration. He’s listened as Trump has made racist statements and been accused of rape.
He has reached the same conclusion as so many evangelicals across the country: In 2020, he’ll support the president. This time, it won’t be a hard choice.

President Donald Trump stands with Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. in Lynchburg, Va. (Steve Helber/Associated Press)
Trump enjoyed overwhelming support from white evangelicals in 2016, winning a higher percentage than George W. Bush, John McCain or Mitt Romney. That enthusiasm has scarcely dimmed. Almost 70 percent of white evangelicals approve of Trump’s performance in office, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center poll.
Interviews with 50 evangelical Christians in three battleground states — Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — help explain why. In conversation, evangelical voters paint the portrait of the Trump they see: a president who acts like a bully but is fighting for them. A president who sees America like they do, a menacing place where white Christians feel mocked and threatened for their beliefs. A president who’s against abortion and gay rights and who has the economy humming to boot.
“You’ve just got to accept the bad with the good,” Halbert said.
Evangelical Christians are separated from other Protestants (called mainline Protestants) by their belief in the literal truth of the Bible as well as their conservative politics on gender roles, sexuality, abortion and other subjects. 
For many, the eight years of the Obama administration felt like a nightmare. The indelible image for the Rev. Chris Gillott was the night the Supreme Court ruled gay marriage legal across the land and Obama flooded the White House in rainbow lights.
“I didn’t see it lit up in a rainbow this June,” the youth pastor at Christian Life Center in Bensalem, Pa., notes, with a hint of satisfaction.
Gillott perceived, during the Obama administration, a newly hostile attitude toward Christians in America that left him worried his country was changing irrevocably. “If you think marriage is between one man and one woman, you’re a bigot and we don’t need you in this country,” he summarized what he saw as the thinking of Democrats. “There is animus being attributed to Christian core beliefs. And where that’s coming from is the left.” 
Trump looked to many like a protector, a brash culture warrior who would take their side. “He said, ‘I’m gonna fight for you. I’m gonna defend you,’ ” said Ralph Reed, the chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Georgia, which will distribute millions of voter-guide pamphlets at churches to drive evangelical turnout in 2020. “He gets it. He knows they’re hungry for that.”
Reed, and others, don’t necessarily expect Trump to fix the problems they see. On gay rights in particular — by far the most drastic change in American attitudes in this century — evangelicals fought hard to block marriage equality. But now, many believe that ship has sailed.
While they cheer Trump’s many efforts to chip away at LGBT rights, they are much more concerned with protecting their own right to maintain their opposition. 
They want to be able to teach their values without interference — some churchgoers fretted about school textbooks that refer to transgender identities without condemnation and about gay couples showing up in TV commercials every time they try to watch a show with their children.
They want the right to choose how they run their businesses. Members of large churches across the country can rattle off the details of the court cases involving Christian business owners who refused to participate in gay weddings and the bill that Democrats in Congress want to pass to compel service for all customers.
For many, abortion was the defining issue of the last election. In Appleton, Wis., the Rev. A.J. Dudek sat with several leaders of men’s Bible study groups recently in his megachurch’s huge curving lobby. 
“Do I enjoy his tweets? No,” Dudek said about the president. But he believes the agenda far outweighs that concern. “If Donald Trump will help save a couple million babies that’s a good thing. My vote has to align with my view of God’s word — I should care for the baby in the womb.”
It’s a calculation that evangelicals frequently described making when they considered their options in the 2016 election.
But now, many are genuinely delighted by the Trump they’ve seen in office.
The economy is roaring. Trump makes mention of God at rallies and pays lip service to evangelicals. They praise his honesty, focusing not on falsehoods spoken but on his attempts to do all the things he said he would do in office.
“He’s forthright and honest — at his rallies, he talks about God,” said Joey Rogers, who wore a Trump hat while shopping at a gun show in Bradenton, Fla., last month. Rogers, a member of an evangelical church near Tampa, has attended televangelist Paula White’s church in Georgia a few times and said her affiliation with Trump reassures him that the president is a praying man. 
Democrats think Christians are “wacky,” he said. He also bemoaned a degradation of American life brought on, Rogers said, by half a century of removing prayer from public schools and Bible verses from federal courthouses.
“All of our laws are based on the Ten Commandments,” he said. “I think that’s why the country is losing the values that we once had.”
During a Sunday in July when Trump spent morning not at church but instead tweeting that four congresswomen of color — three of whom were born in the United States — should “go back” to the countries “from which they came,” many white evangelicals in Florida said immigration is their top priority. They almost unanimously approved of Trump’s handling of the border.
“If you are coming to America and you are in one of our facilities being held, that’s on you,” said Andrea Owen, a retired police officer who spends most days babysitting her autistic great-nephew. “I’m not trying to be hateful because we’re all God’s people. But do it legally. . . . The places they’re housing them? Honestly, if they’re so uncomfortable, they shouldn’t have come here.” 
Some evangelicals, like Julian Ketchum at Hope Community Church in King of Prussia, Pa., label themselves “values voters.” What they mean by values: abortion and gay rights, not traits like integrity and kindness. “There’s no way I can know those” attributes of a person’s character, Ketchum said, though he then said he picked Trump over Clinton in part because he found her dishonest.
And the allegations that Trump sexually assaulted numerous women are not a moral concern, many Christians say.
“I don’t see him as a rapist,” said Cheryl Gough, a preschool teacher at Bay Life Church in Brandon, Fla. “He can be not the nicest person, but I don’t see — I’m not calling her a liar. There’s just been too many allegations. Now you’re coming to the public about it?”
Evangelical views on gender roles also tend to put them at odds with the American mainstream: Most believe the Bible teaches that women ought to be submissive to men, who are in charge within the family. 
Reed, who predicts Trump will capture as large a share of the evangelical vote in 2020 or even larger than in 2016, said a Democratic opponent who tries to chastise Trump for sexual harassment will only turn off these voters.
“Do not campaign on somebody’s personal shortcomings. History says voters are very forgiving. And they don’t like hearing it,” he said. “They’ve had moral shortcomings. They’ve had moral failings.”
The accusations of Trump’s shortcomings just keep coming. Opponents decry his attitude toward people of color, his approach to immigrants detained at the border, his answers to violence in American cities, and on and on.
But in Appleton, the Rev. Dennis Episcopo hasn’t felt the need as a religious leader to denounce any of it in front of his congregation, which includes more than 5,000 attendees on a typical Sunday. The megachurch that he has led for 22 years is almost entirely white and conservative, like the lakeside region where it is located.
Episcopo has not seen any behavior from Trump in the past three years that would prompt him to openly dissuade churchgoers from supporting this president.
“There could be something, where society really crosses the line on something, that I feel as a pastor I have to get up and say something,” he muses. “But it hasn’t happened yet.”

April 26, 2019

For Franklyn Graham There is No Direct Quotes From Christ No Joy of Resurrection Unless Intolerance and Judgement Comes 1st.


 



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For Christians in the Western tradition (the Eastern Orthodox Easter is this coming Sunday), it’s the joyful season of the Resurrection, when sackcloth and ashes are put aside and believers celebrate the redemptive love of God for all of humankind.
But for conservative Evangelical leader and Trump supporter Franklin Graham, intolerance is always in season:
This is hardly a new point of view for conservative Evangelicals, but most are less brazen about telling a fellow Christian he’s not one, and that God wants him to hate his very nature and spurn his spouse. How does Graham rationalize his bigotry? He blames it on the Bible, to which he takes a spiritually barren, legalistic approach that keeps him from seeing forest or trees because he’s scratching around in the pine straw of cultural conservatism, divinizing the Way Things Used to Be. In this, Graham reminds me of former Georgia congressman and Christian right stalwart Paul Broun Jr.:
The Bible, he says, is a “manufacturer’s handbook,” that shows “how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches … how to run all of public policy and everything in society.” What an astonishingly, depressingly unspiritual way to look at the Good Book; what an appallingly illiterate way of understanding it, particularly if you get that the only scriptures people like Broun want to use to control the lives of everyone in the world just happen to reinforce the kind of smug white conservative patriarchal world-view from a bygone era they consider ideal.
Buttigieg, of course, has said to Graham’s religio-political brother-in-arms Mike Pence that when it comes to his sexual orientation: “Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.” Graham has no problem presuming to reject the work of that creator on grounds that he knows better because of sparse and random condemnations of homosexuality (never by Jesus, it should be noted) in a book whose unmistakable themes are God’s unfailing and unconditional love for all of His creation — and the particularly sinful nature of human self-righteousness.
Next time President Trump has press availability, someone should ask him if he agrees with Graham’s belief that all gay people are depraved and cannot practice Christianity without renouncing their orientation or at least heading back to the closet. Granted, the president knows about as much about religion as he does about the U.S. Constitution. But he should at least accept some responsibility for the hateful views of some of his most fervent supporters — or challenge them to repent.

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