Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I've long admired Rev. Jane Spahr [Pictured], and I'm delighted she was vindicated for performing what is considered by the Presbyterian Church as a blessing of same-sex unions but which, in reality, is a marriage before God and all who understand the desire of two people who love each other to the point where they are willing to make a lifetime commitment to each other.

"Presbyterian ministers are allowed to bless same-sex unions as long as the ceremonies don’t too closely mimic traditional weddings." [If that isn't a pathetic stance, I don't know what is!]

"Church prosecutors said she broke church law, contained in the Presbyterian Church constitution, which defines marriage as 'a civil contract between a woman and a man.'"

[For the full article, see here.]

Rev. Spahr has long shown the courage of her convictions by confronting the powers that be within the denomination to which she has long belonged, and deserves abundant gratitude for her commitment to Gospel principles that seem to have escaped all too many within the institutional Church.

Notice that the "prosecutors" in her Church trial sought to have her punished because the Presbyterian Church is against same-sex marriage, saying Rev. Spahr went against the Church's constitution by performing a "marriage" which, as the prosecutors state, is "a civil contract between a man and a woman."

Here we have a gross example of how a denomination invokes discriminatory civil law to, at least in part, justify its denial of the sacramental right of marriage to Gay people, and does so within its very constitution; the prosecutors have no compunction about invoking the existence of marriage being defined as "a civil contract" to justify prosecuting a clergy person who dares to stand up to a discriminatory rule of that denomination's constitution that mimics civil law within all states except Massachusetts, and that clearly inveighs against the dignity and well-deserved rights of same-sex couples.

I have absolutely no doubt that one day each church and denomination will affirm and conduct as a sacrament same-sex marriages, just as they now do with heterosexual marriages, as well as they now do regarding marriages between people of different races, something that many, if not most, churches would not have done prior to the 1960's.

The tragic fact is that virtually all churches and denominations within the institutional Church take their cues from the outcome of the civil rights struggles that most prominently occur within secular society. One only has to look at the African-American civil rights struggle to see that fact.

When, finally, the goal of full and equal civil rights is won for Gay people within secular society, then, and only then, will most all of the churches within the institutional Church jump on the bandwagon, just as most churches have historically done by playing the caboose on the train of virtually all civil rights struggles.

And it's courageous people like Rev. Spahr who will justifiably be seen as one of the heroes in this fight for the acquisition of full dignity and civil and sacramental rights for God's LGBT children.
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Monday, April 28, 2008


I've long been an admirer of Rev. Jim Lawson [Pictured], and I urge you to read this article that contains an interview with him. Here is part of what he has to say:

``[For African-American Christians] to unite with white Christian fundamentalism like Pat Robertson is an absolute disgrace. For black people to pretend that kind of Christian fundamentalism, which justified slavery and justifies racism, is a colleague in anything is to be blind to the realities that we're facing. We who have suffered and do suffer should be the most sensitive to the suffering of others. We don't want this undeserved suffering put on us, and we should therefore, clearly, not participate in putting such suffering on others. We ought to know better.''

``Much of Christianity in the United States has been more influenced by violence and sexism and racism and greed than by the teachings of Jesus.''

Rev. Lawson, a long-time advocate for civil rights, understands full well how so many people, black and white, have been duped by assorted religious leaders into thinking that Christianity is to be synonymous with harsh, legalistic, exclusionary, judgmentalism. In other words, many professing Christians and non-Christians have been sold a bill of goods, that has handsomely rewarded (materially and/or psychologically and/or socially and/or politically) many of these leaders; that bill of goods completely ignores the grace and love of God for all of His creation.

Homophobic clergy mischaracterize certain selected Bible passages, and encourage their blind followers to not only do the same and continue to share and spread their ignorance, but to make an idol of that very Bible that they warp into being consonant with their prejudicial mind-sets.

They make a mockery of Jesus' life, work, words, and ministry, and yet feel self-righteous in so doing!

Indeed, their smug self-righteousness, their fiery hostile rhetoric and/or their silence in the face of others' oppression has caused untold damage to untold numbers of human beings and their families, and has also caused untold damage to the cause of Christ, and has ignored His charge to all those who truly are His disciples to be agents of grace in this world, and to love and not judge others.

These self-appointed arbiters of morality who have the audacity to claim moral superiority over others, and have the temerity to castigate others in the name of the Prince of Peace, not only encourage their congregations to do the same, but preach a message that is diametrically opposed to the message of Christ.

Indeed, many of them are nothing more than thugs who are preaching the devil's message of condemnation to God's very own LGBT children!

It is contemptible for anyone who calls him/herself a Christian to discriminate against another person; it is especially contemptible for an African-American to discriminate against LGBT people, as those who do so are fighting against their own oppressed brothers and sisters.

When such a betrayal occurs, it becomes a "circulation of elites," whereby the oppressed becomes the oppressor, and then nothing has been gained save for the gratification of naked self-interest.

African American pastors, such as Ken Hutcherson, and other homophobic black pastors, are the equivalent of the White Supremacist pastors in the 1950's who, with all self-confidence, sought to justify why black people were not to be integrated with white people; how black people didn't deserve to have the same civil rights as white people enjoyed; how segregation was "in God's will."

As far as I'm concerned, any group of people who would seek to limit or exclude the freedom of others, and seek to deny them civil rights, is not entitled to enjoy the benefits of those rights themselves!

With all the rhetoric of the Ken Hutchersons to the contrary, the LGBT civil rights struggle is exactly the same as the African-American struggle for civil rights!

When out and proud Gay people are turned away from churches, it is absolutely no different than when black people were turned away from white churches in the 1950's and 1960's.

LGBT people are an oppressed group and deserve to have full civil and sacramental rights, as are enjoyed by every other citizen in the U.S. and other "civilized" countries in the world! And to the degree that full and equal civil rights are denied in the U.S, it's to that degree that the U.S. shows that it does not deserve to be called or viewed as "civilized."

And to the degree that full and equal sacramental rights are denied to LGBT people by any church, it's to that degree that that church has shown itself to have absolutely nothing to do with the Church of Jesus Christ!

And any pastor or church or para-church leader who seeks to demean LGBT people, who seeks to deny them full dignity, who seeks to deny them full and equal civil and sacramental rights, shows him/herself to be none of Christ's!
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Saturday, April 26, 2008


In the article, entitled, "The Science of Sexuality," by Greta Christina, she states the following, after expressing her faith that science one day will come to understand the origins of sexual orientation, and that mere conjectures do a disservice to the question:

"So why don't we try a different angle for a while. Maybe something like this:

"'We don't really know what causes sexual orientation. And we don't think it matters. It's probably a combination of genetics and environment, but until more research is done, we don't really know for sure. And we don't think it matters. It's an interesting question, one many people are curious about -- but it doesn't really matter. Homosexuality doesn't harm anybody, and it doesn't harm society, and our relationships are as healthy and stable and valid as anybody else's ... and it isn't anybody's business but our own.

"'We deserve rights and recognition because we are human beings and citizens: as much as racial minorities, whose skin color is inborn, and as much as religious minorities, whose religion or lack thereof is learned. The 'born versus learned' question is a fascinating one, with many possible implications about human consciousness generally. But it has absolutely no bearing on questions like job discrimination, or adoption of children by same-sex couples, or whether we should be able to marry. We don't yet know the answer to this question ... but for any practical, political, social, or moral purposes, it absolutely does not matter.'"

I fully agree with her conclusions! It really doesn't matter why a person is Gay or Straight or Bisexual or Asexual; it doesn't matter why a person manifests gender in ways not considered "appropriate" by many in a given culture at a given time! What matters is how we treat each other!

Regardless of the causes of our sexual orientations or preferences; regardless of the causes of our gender performances and identities, each and every human being must be accepted and embraced for the precious person he/she is!

In addition to the scientific dimension, where Christina is right on the money, there is also the spiritual dimension which is much harder for most people to get a handle on, and from which many people distance themselves, falsely thinking that the "spiritual" is less real, and indeed less valid, than is the "scientific."

However, even given a little thought, we can see that most of our decisions throughout life are based, not on "scientific" considerations, but on "spiritual," visceral, inclinations, such as our feelings determining those with whom we become friends, whether we like dogs or cats, with whom we choose to spend the rest of our lives or whether we choose to remain without a permanent relationship.

"Scientific" criteria rarely, if ever, play a major part in our day to day decisions! Indeed, even the criteria that form the basis of our day to day decisions may even be elusive to us, yet it must be admitted that scientific rationality, the scientific method, is usually very far from our minds and consciousness when we make most of the crucial choices and decisions as to how we live our lives!

Although I'm not particularly "religious," I am "spiritual," to the degree that God has graced me to be, and I'm convinced that sexual orientation and gender identity, our sexual and/or emotional fixations and their degree of fluidity, our "objects" of desire and our sense of intactness in living out those (and so many other) aspects of our lives as created beings, are spiritual in causation and nature, and should be directly contingent upon our faith or trust in God and in His sovereignty.

Therefore, especially for the Christian, it should be far easier to deal with a status or statuses that is or are stigmatized and even vilified by mere fallible, often hateful, human beings, whether they be professing Christians or not; whether they be clergy or not.

As Christians, we look to God to define our reality, and we know deep down in our very beings that God made us as we are, and that we owe no one any apologies for being who God created us to be; we don't allow any other fallible human being to tell us what God wants for our lives; we are to live out every aspect of our lives authentically before God and before human beings, without apology, without fear, without shame, without guilt!

Unfortunately the scientific method, as valuable as it is, is not likely to affirm (or be able to refute) these contentions, these truths!

Although the spiritual and the secular meet in the "thin places" in our lives and in the world, they are viewed as being so far apart in the consciousness of most people that the technologies and techniques available to scientists to study such questions as orientations, identities, comportment, and preferences can't even remotely approach the meanings that God has placed in His creation of His LGBT children.

My strong distaste for vegetables, for example, might be a mere curiosity, but is in the secular sense of the same order as anyone's sexual orientation or preference or gender identity or gender performance. We'll never know why I hate vegetables, even if we were foolish enough to spend an inordinate amount of time studying the question, and it's neither less nor more important for us to exhaustively study our food preferences than to study our emotional/sexual preferences and gender identities.

Indeed, I think we'd get far more bang for the buck by studying why so many people feel the need to do studies to find out why some people are LGBT!

Just as one shouldn't be discriminated against because of food preference, one shouldn't be discriminated against because of sexual orientation or preference or gender identity or gender performance. Even if such preferences, performances, and identities were freely chosen (which they most definitely are not), it wouldn't change the fact that oppression and discrimination would be unjust and no less egregious than if these preferences, performances, and identities were solely biologically determined and not within the person's control.

The reasons for our differences in these, and all other aspects of our lives are completely irrelevant when it comes to how we treat each other; completely irrelevant regarding each of us deserving to have equal rights under the law!

Just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two people are alike! God specializes in diversity, and He made each one of us according to His sovereign will for us and for our lives and for our relationships, and how dare anyone, professing Christian or not; politician or not; clergy or not, dare condemn what God in His sovereignty has made!

So, the scientist in me would be intrigued if we could find out the roots of our emotional/sexual orientations, for example, but those roots, if found, would only be secular in nature. And regardless of those secular roots, discrimination, unequal treatment, and oppression would still be uncalled for and, indeed, obscene!

The far more important root cause of who we are, who we love, who we sexually desire, our gender identities and gender performances, come from the One Who created each and every one of us! And no one, particularly a Christian, should ever forget that fact!

We are children of God! And no scientific study, regardless of how sophisticated it is, can trump that reality!
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Friday, April 25, 2008


To honor our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers, this is the 2008 National Day of Silence. In that vein, I want to make this a short post by stating that God values only one thing in a person: Faith! The only way we appropriate God's grace to us, and please God, is by trusting Him over and above seen circumstances!

The best way we can show our faith in God is by being authentic! We do God absolutely no favors if we seek to be anything other than what He made us to be, or if we in any way feel guilty for who God made us to be!

Indeed, we show a decided lack of faith if we behave in ways that are inauthentic for us in our uniqueness. For example, if one is Gay, he or she is committing a grievous sin if he or she seeks to be anything other than that!

To seek to deny one's uniqueness as made in the image of God, made as God wanted to make each of His children in our uniqueness, is to not only throw God's grace back in His face, but to throw His very creation and sovereign choices back in His face, and to inhibit or prevent our living out God's purpose for each of our lives.

We do ourselves no favors by living inauthentic lives! Indeed, we defame God by living inauthentic lives!

So, to seek to be anything other than who God made us to be is to show a profound distrust, or lack of faith, in God.

Moreover, to seek to change another person to be in conformity with what one thinks that God wants for that person, is to be extraordinarily prideful and arrogant, in that those who seek to do so are placing themselves in the place of God.

Those who seek to change another to meet what he/she thinks is "Godly," "moral," "biblical," and "right," are denying the sovereignty of God Who can't possibly be contained within the contents of any book or within the minds of mere fallible human beings!

God doesn't make predators, and it's predators who seek to change others from the image, the very person, that God made of them! They are substituting their own judgments, prejudices, biblical interpretations, and mind-sets for the sovereign choices of God, thereby usurping God's position in a person's life, in the world, and God's position as our Creator.

Indeed, these predators, professing Christians or not, are making idols of themselves and their prejudices, judgments, and mind-sets! They are really worshiping themselves and their own values and traditions, and that worship is a direct offense against God and against their fellow human beings.

On this National Day of Silence, let's be mindful of the fact that God doesn't make any mistakes! God created each of us in our uniqueness according to His sovereign will!

And for anyone else to tell us who we are to be, or how we are to behave, or what values we are to hold, or who condemn us for not conforming to the expectations of mere fallible human beings, be they clergy or not, be they family or not, be they acquaintances or not, be they professing Christians or not, are putting themselves in the place of God, and there is no greater sin than that!

Please be content with the person God created you to be! Please recognize that you are a person of inestimable worth, and that God has had His hands on you from the time you were in your mother's womb!

Even if the whole world disagrees with you, and even if the whole world condemns you, then the whole world is fighting against God's sovereign will, and the whole world would be wrong! And I'm absolutely convinced that God's will for all whom He chose from the foundation of the world who lead authentic lives before Him and before the world, will prevail!

Let this National Day of Silence be a time where we all take heart and internalize this message, and realize that the best days are ahead of us!
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008


"[The actor, Adamo] Ruggiero says coming out was a relatively easy thing to do in Canada, but added he seriously feels for his Hollywood counterparts. [This assertion echoes the two year old statement of the British actor Ian McKellen who said that "it's impossible for homosexual Hollywood actors to have successful careers."]

"'My heart goes out to a lot of the young people in Hollywood because they really do have a whole different set of pressures than I have here in Toronto,' said Ruggiero, 21.

"'I had newspapers that were cheering me on and congratulating me and at the same time respecting my privacy. And I wondered to myself: Would it have been the same situation in America? I don't think so.'

"There is simply too much money at stake in the United States, says Ruggiero, who's headed to L.A. this weekend to represent [the TV show] 'Degrassi' at the annual GLAAD Awards. The show is nominated for best drama series.

"'The biggest young actors in Hollywood have multimillion deals and all this stuff, and there's such a huge publicity engine there that we don't have,' Ruggiero says.

"'I'd like to think as time goes by, people might be a little more open about their sexuality, but I think the reality as it stands right now in Hollywood is that people really do fear what's going to happen to their careers if they come out. It's all about the dollar signs.'

"Webster notes that most of the actors coming out recently are TV stars - no major movie stars have taken the brave step, even though there are many well-known actors in Tinseltown whose homosexuality is an open secret despite the presence of spouses and children."

[For the full article, see here]

I think it's more than "about the dollar signs!" The tremendous shame and self-loathing among so many LGBT people, combined with the brainwashing engaged in by all too many clergy telling their congregations, and all others who will listen, that LGBT people are "sinners," "disordered," and "a threat to our way of life," that has largely made America so homophobic!

Of course, the need to bend to some degree of political pressure has had some states institute crumbs of incrementalism such as Civil Unions and Domestic Partnership benefits. Yet, as I've written before, it is my firm opinion that these constructs, although conferring some short-term benefits, are retarding the realization of full marriage rights, and the dignity that accrues to the designation of "marriage," that same-sex couples who want to make a lifetime commitment to each other certainly deserve.

Religion in the U.S. has all too often enmeshed itself with reactionary political forces (sometimes combined with the view that America is the equivalent of "a city upon a hill," especially favored by God, and called out by God to serve a prophetic purpose), and it has frequently attracted rather one-dimensional leaders, who have bureaucratically structured most churches and denominations in such a way that there is engendered a respect for the clerical hierarchy, and what division of labor exists within these bureaucracies are believed by both the leaders and the congregations to be legitimately subordinate to the mind-sets and dictates of the leaders. (I understand that denominations differ in varying degrees in this regard. However, with the exceptions of the United Church of Christ, and The Disciples of Christ, most other denominations seem to fit the above pattern to a significant degree.)

Usually, homophobic rhetoric and rantings emanating from pulpits are combined with an emotionalism that can't help but have those in the audience get caught up in the rhythm of the rhetoric, and virtually by osmosis take on the prejudices of the relevant pastor or priest, viewing those prejudices as being "Godly," since a member of the clergy spoke the words, and come to feel that they, themselves, believed in those words and the sentiments expressed before they even heard them.

Indeed, many people who are attracted to homophobic churches in the first place are likely to be rather one-dimensional people who are most comfortable thinking in black and white terms, and who see inherent dualities in life, such as good and bad, and right and wrong. Of course, there are such dualities that exist, yet there should be expressed disagreement within and outside the church as to what constitutes "good" and "bad" and "right" and "wrong."

Visiting injustice and discrimination upon any of God's children is "bad" and "wrong" by any Christian definition! Indeed, to demean and oppress any human being for being who he or she is is nothing short of "evil!" (That is the message that any church worthy of the name must preach and live out loudly and clearly for all the world to see, if it is truly representative of the life and teachings of Jesus!)

What complicates this evil is that it besmirches Christianity itself, as all too many people view Christians as being a bunch of harsh, censorious, judgmental freaks who delight in castigating people who don't think and act like they say they do. Indeed, homophobic rhetoric emanating from professing Christians, clergy and non-clergy, is a profound embarrassment to all Christians worthy of the name.

Since religion has played such a vital part in American society, and since it has been reactionary religion that has gained ascendancy particularly since the early 20th Century, homophobia has been given a legitimacy that it certainly doesn't deserve, and that is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus.

When homophobia is supported by religious figures, it is given a legitimacy that not only empowers haters and hate-mongers, but also negatively affects LGBT people and their families and loved ones, in that many (at least on some level of consciousness) come to believe the ignorant and hateful rhetoric spoken with a mantle of authority, and an asserted and perceived credibility, that are neither warranted nor deserved.

For example, given my training, I feel rather comfortable discussing social and biblical issues. However, I'd be a fool if I were to pontificate upon a subject like nuclear physics, a subject about which I know nothing!

Yet, all too many professing Christians, who are usually completely ignorant concerning sexuality and gender identity issues, have no compunction to condemn what they don't understand, and then proceed to give oracular pronouncements denouncing LGBT people, using as justifications for that denunciation what they think God wants for this world and for other people.

What gall!

So, actors and actresses in the U.S., even in this day and age, are fearful of coming out, lest parents won't take their children to see their films. As Elaine Liu cogently points out in the above linked article:

"But Elaine Lui, a correspondent on CTV's ETalk, doesn't think that day [when actors can freely come out] is coming any time soon.

"'I don't think it's going to change for a long time, if ever,' said Lui, who also blogs about celebrity gossip on her website, Lainey's Entertainment Update (

"'Family movies are the ones that are making the most money, like 'Wild Hogs,' for example - that made tons of money. The top-grossing movies are very family-oriented, and nobody wants to imagine that the stars of those movies are gay or to take their kids to those movies and have to explain that to them,' she says.

"'People seem to get more conservative once they have kids, and they like to believe in illusions just as much as the older generation of movie-goers. The people who go see family movies are very conservative, and it's those movies that are making the studios so much money.'"

So, until LGBT people and allies directly confront homophobic clergy, continuously picket homophobic churches, write letters to the editor of local, regional, and national newspapers, engage in meaningful coordinated activism in conjunction with LGBT Rights organizations to insist on acquiring full and equal civil and sacramental rights, and not in any way patronize or support churches that advocate discrimination, the shame, self-loathing, and fear is likely to continue among Gay actors as well as among many other Gay people.

There is plenty of blame to go around for the homophobic state of much of the U.S., but I place most of the blame on homophobic clergy and their followers who stupidly think that they are doing God a favor by thinking they are being "righteous" by convincing gullible people who don't have a clue regarding sexuality and biblical exegeses that LGBT people are sinners and are "not right with God."

Indeed, such feelings of self-righteousness, and even biblical ignorance of the Gospel message of grace, faith, love, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness can be seen among clergy in the highest offices within mainline denominations, and also to be seen to be splitting such a denomination as the Anglican Communion.

It's one big lie that homophobic clergy are purveying, and it's up to LGBT people, allies, and all Christians worthy of the name to spread that message loudly and clearly in any and every venue possible.

Then, and only then, will people, actors or not, feel free to live authentic lives before God and before the whole world, which is what Jesus has called us to do in the first place!
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Monday, April 21, 2008


"'Once you actually see him, you can feel him, his eyes are just glowing and he's so happy,' Gaggioli said. 'Everyone just goes crazy.'" [For the full article, see here.]

No! This young woman wasn't talking about Jesus or the reality of the Holy Spirit residing within her! She was talking about a mere fallible human being, the Pope.

About this pope, the article says, "In his writings before and since becoming pope, Benedict has stressed the importance of a strict adherence to orthodoxy, and opposition to a wide array of modern cultural trends, including feminism, gay rights, and demands - especially among American Catholics - for greater democracy and administrative transparency within the church."

So, this mere fallible man who talks about the need for "a strict adherence to orthodoxy," and who decries civil and sacramental rights for Gay people and, indeed, who demonizes them and their families every chance he gets, and (if I'm interpreting the article correctly) who seeks to dispel the crazy idea that there should be "greater democracy and administrative transparency within the church," is fawned over by such gullible people that they loudly cheer and congregate around him to merely just figuratively touch the hem of his garment.

The institutional Church, particularly the RC Church as constituted since the age of Constantine, has been enmeshed with the State (Indeed, the Vatican is its own State.), and usually with the most reactionary forces within the State, and has become so bureaucratic and autocratic that it attracts and reinforces authoritarian personalities that veritably fawn over authority figures (especially when they are associated with pomp and circumstance), and are all too frequently one-dimensional, closed-minded, inordinately rigid people who are extraordinarily uncomfortable in contemplating and/or dealing with ambiguity that entails so much of life as it is lived on this earth.

The authoritarian personality is characterized by: "excessive conformity; submissiveness to authority; intolerance; insecurity; superstition; rigid, stereotyped thought patterns."

It is this kind of personality structure that is both eminently suitable to rigid, conformist-oriented, disciplined bureaucratic structures and, in the secular world, it is those with authoritarian personalities who are usually the careerists who know whose rear end to kiss in order to "work" their way up the corporate ladder.

What is so pathetic about the authoritarian personality of lay people within the institutional Church (beyond its inherent unchristian nature) is that they usually receive no financial rewards for their fawning over authority figures. Indeed, it is they who pay those authority figures in both money and in fidelity.

A mark of an intelligent person is that he or she is able to handle ambiguity in life. Those with highly developed authoritarian personalities are most comfortable in bureaucracies that inculcate and reinforce in the individual the need to be "methodical, prudent, disciplined," to use the Sociologist Robert Merton's term. ("Bureaucratic Structure and Personality)

The RC Church doesn't merely encourage such a personality structure, it virtually demands it of its followers, lest they be considered not really "good" Roman Catholics at all, and are thus often derisively termed "cafeteria catholics." The unfortunate fact is that the Pope and the Vatican usually don't have to twist the arms of their supplicants too hard in order for them to conform (save for the issue of artificial contraception), as those with authoritarian personalities, many of whom are largely attracted to the RC Church precisely because it's conducive to such personalities, are more than amenable to whatever messages emanate from the Pope's speeches and encyclicals.

Even when such a large-scale abomination as the priest ephebophilia scandals, and the coverups by assorted Bishops (and had they not been RC Bishops, they undoubtedly would have been serving hard time for criminal facilitation) came to light, costing the RC Church roughly two billion dollars in settlements, and the Vatican then engaging in a witch hunt so as to use gay men in seminaries as scapegoats to help divert attention from those scandals, relatively few Roman Catholics expressed revulsion sufficient to motivate them to leave that institution. Indeed, even many who did express such revulsion decided to stay within that denomination!

People with authoritarian personalities want to be told what to do! Indeed, they even want to be told what to think! Life is much simpler for them when they can be assured that what they are being told is a truth that they can count on, even if the maker of those remarks is just as befuddled (if not more so) by the mysteries of life as are his supplicants.

Every Christian worships God and no one and nothing else! He/she doesn't worship the Pope, the Vatican, clergy, deacons, tradition (see, for example, Matthew 15:3), or any other elemental thing in this world. Only God is worshipped by the Christian, and to worship anyone or anything else, including the Bible itself, is to commit the sin of idolatry, and those who commit such a sin are not Christians, no matter how often they attend a church, and no matter how much they profess to be Christians!

Once anyone places fealty in a mere human being, or uses any human being or object as an idol, or as a virtual replacement for Christ Himself, he/she is removing that fealty from God, and is, thereby, turning his/her back on God!

Part of the above linked article reads: "The thousands hearing the pope at Mass included a group of women from Milwaukee - wearing red 'Wisconsin welcomes Benedict' T-shirts - who cheered the pope with rock-star-like adoration."

I have the feeling that if Jesus came to our shores, or to any shore, for that matter, He would be scorned, debased, humiliated and, perhaps, even killed by a howling mob who would share the very same authoritarian personality as did those who "cheered the pope with rock-star-like adoration."

You see, Jesus wouldn't be arriving in the equivalent of a Popemobile, amid pomp and circumstance, dressed in the utmost finery, and wearing Prada shoes. He'd undoubtedly come with calloused hands, dressed like anyone else, and preach grace, love, faith, forgiveness, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness.

In other words, He'd preach the Gospel, the "good news," the only Gospel to be found in Christianity!

And those with authoritarian personalities, those who would idolize a mere human being, and who love and want to be told what to do and what to think, and who would in any way demean or discriminate against any of God's children, would hate Him!

And they would be so secure in their prejudices, so secure in their place in the institutional Church, that they would undoubtedly have no compunction about crucifying Him afresh! (And it must be noted that most Roman Catholics are no different in this regard than are most within the Protestant traditions.)

And why would they? They are repeatedly crucifying Jesus every time they believe those authoritarians who preach and practice discrimination (be it against women or LGBT people) whom they have chosen to follow, rather than believe and follow the One Who personifies grace and love, and Who promises us freedom from yokes of bondage placed upon us by the very people that that cheering mob simply adores.
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Sunday, April 20, 2008


The following is a letter sent to me by my good friend, Don Charles, regarding a call for true equality in the United Methodist Church, and its not substituting "unity" and "peace" for "justice." Such a call has been essential in virtually all civil rights struggles. What is noteworthy is that the United Methodist Church is among the more "liberal" denominations within the institutional Church.

This is the text of the letter:

A UMNS Commentary
By Steven E. Webster*

Many voices from across The United Methodist Church are suggesting there is no way forward in the 36-year-long dialogue about the role and status of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the church. Declaring an impasse, these voices call for an end to this dialogue in the name of peace and unity.

Forty-five years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a now-famous letter from a jail cell in Birmingham, Ala., to a group of white clergy (including two Methodist bishops) who--in the name of "unity" and "peace"--had publicly called on King and his allies to cease their disturbing nonviolent protests against racial segregation.

King wrote that the "great stumbling block" in the African-American struggle for equality was not blatant bigotry, "but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice, who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice."

I embrace our Wesleyan Christian vision of "making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world" and applaud the General Conference for seeking to build unity around four focus areas: 1) developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world; 2) reaching new people in new places by starting new congregations and renewing existing ones; 3) engaging in ministry with the poor; and 4) stamping out killer diseases by improving health globally.

Yet we undercut these same goals when we continue to: 1) reject the gifts and graces of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and their allies; 2) turn off a younger generation that views the Christian faith as "anti-homosexual;" 3) push LGBT youth into poverty and homelessness as families reject them because church and society stigmatizes LGBT persons; and 4) fail to address the role that ignorance and stigmatization of homosexuality (and other sexualities) play in the global AIDS epidemic.

Biblical peace

The United Methodist Church cannot enjoy true peace and unity while it engages in injustice and spiritual violence against some of its members. Biblical peace does not refer to the apparent absence of conflict, and still less to the suppression of dialogue. In the Bible, "peace" ("shalom" in Hebrew) is a holistic concept that includes justice and total well-being.

To fail to address the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the church now would leave in place the status quo in church law that includes Judicial Council Decision 1032, which normalizes the exclusion of LGBT persons from membership in the church. Decision 1032 has never yet been the subject of discussion at a General Conference and runs counter to a (non-binding) plea in our Social Principles that "we implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends."

Even if lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are allowed to attend or join the membership of The United Methodist Church, Decision 1032 further legitimates the widespread practice of "shunning" such persons as unworthy to serve in any of the ministries of the local church. This is spiritual violence, the misuse of religious authority to demean and diminish LGBT Christians.

I know LGBT persons who have been denied the opportunity to serve in the church as leaders of adult education classes, choir members, committee members, or readers of Scripture in worship. It is not unheard of for committed same-gender couples to be denied baptism for their babies and gay youth to be shunned from youth groups in The United Methodist Church.

These acts, justified by labeling LGBT people as "unrepentant sinners" inferior to all the "repentant sinners" in the church, are acts of spiritual violence, harming the souls of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. It is tragic that being from a devout Christian family has been identified as a risk factor for suicide among LGBT youths.

A thorn in the flesh

Some have described the church's long dialogue over these issues as "a thorn in the flesh." Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 that he endured a painful "thorn in the flesh" that would not leave him even though he pleaded with God to remove it. God's answer to Paul applies to us: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness."

We feel weary and weakened by this long dialogue over homosexuality, a dialogue in which I have actively participated in many ways these past 36 years. The faith that sustains me is that God intends to perfect us through these trials, and we, the people of The United Methodist Church, look forward to a real peace which is, in King's words, the presence of justice and not merely the absence of tension.

*Webster is chair of the church council of University United Methodist Church in Madison, Wis., and has attended the 2000 and 2004 General Conferences as a volunteer with Soulforce, an organization that describes itself as working for freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from religious and political oppression. He legally married Jim Dietrich, his partner of 27 years, in a civil ceremony in Toronto in 2006.
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Friday, April 18, 2008


"It was electrifying. Chills ran up and down my spine as I watched the protesters and then looked back at Ratzinger. Soon I broke into a sweat, overcome by heat, my face turning red as anger swelled up inside me: This man was the embodiment of all that had oppressed me, all the horrors I had suffered as a child. It was because of his bigotry that my family, my church -- everyone around me -- had alienated me, and it was because of his bigotry that I was called "faggot" in school. Because of his bigotry I was treated like garbage. He was responsible for the hell I'd endured. He and his kind were the people who forced me to live in shame, in the closet. I became livid."

[For the full article, see here.]

The untold damage done to LGBT people by the likes of a Joseph Ratzinger, the current Pope, is incalculable. Most all clergy and their followers in the institutional Church are every bit as culpable as is he for the suicides, assaults, and murders of LGBT people, and for tortured lives lived in fear and desperation.

Mere words can't possibly convey how depraved is their rhetoric and the "justification" that they provide to those who would in any way condemn or discriminate against LGBT people.

The above article by Mike Signorile is excellent, and speaks to the rage that must be expressed by LGBT people and allies to and about all ignorant haters, many of whom have a truly undeserved credibility that they receive by the mere attendance and material contributions that their followers and members of their churches and denominations provide to them.

The following is a slightly edited version of an email I wrote to a friend of mine yesterday: "Why would any Gay person with even one ounce of dignity be a member of a homophobic denomination or church? This nonsense of 'working from within' is foolish on its face! I once heard a gay man on TV say he was staying a Catholic because it was his church too, and he could make a difference within it. Really? He can't excommunicate anyone; he can't create even one piece of church doctrine; he can't determine anything or any word that comes out of the Vatican; the Pope doesn't even know he exists, and he's fooling himself, and lending credibility to that whole enterprise, by physically and materially supporting it.

The adulation given to the Pope is inexplicable to me, and merely reinforces, and serves to applaud, his hateful rhetoric that has defamed all Gay people everywhere.

Is it instructive that a Pew poll conducted in 2005 showed that professing Christians were more likely to favor the use of torture on perceived enemies than were non-Christians; the largest group of those professing Christians who favored the use of torture identified themselves as Roman Catholic.

The authoritarian personality exists everywhere, in all churches within the institutional Church, and within all aspects of secular society, but it may well be especially honed to a fine art among those who blindly accept the utterances and encyclicals emanating from the Vatican (save for adherence to the ban on artificial birth control, as that doctrine isn't viewed by most Roman Catholics as serving their best interests).

Moreoever, those people whose belief in God is dependent on "Scriptural infallibility," and who appeal to the Bible to justify their homophobia, are actually worshipping the Bible, as opposed to worshipping God, and they are frequently equating the two, and are, therefore, making an idol out of both the Bible as well as making an idol of their own fallible and erroneous interpretation of those Bible passages that they select in order to "justify" their condemnation of same-sex love and, by extension, Gay people themselves.

And don't ever believe the nonsense that rolls off of their tongues that they believe in the unbiblical phrase, "Hate the sin, and love the sinner." They demean and defame Gay people and call upon the God Who tells us to love and not judge others, whereas the god they really worship is their own erroneous interpretation of certain selected Scripture verses usually taken out of context.

So, they are actually making an idol both of the Bible and of themselves! And making idols clearly contravenes one of the Ten Commandments: "You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." (Exodus 20:4) And to make an idol of oneself is probably among the worst forms of idolatry!

Moreover, to have one's belief in God, or the condemnation of any of God's children, be based on "Scriptural infallibility" is not being intellectually honest, given the fact that there are no extant autographs, and that we are looking at a translation of a translation of a translation, and that the Canon appeared about 400 years after the Resurrection.

If anyone's trust in God is based on "Scriptural infallibility," he/she is missing the point, as "Scriptural infallibility" was used as a justification for all sorts of atrocities: subjugation of women, slavery, segregation, and, of course, demonizing LGBT people.

And, to adhere to papal teachings and Vatican directives, or to adhere to any other person's teachings that contravene Jesus' commandments to His disciples to love and not judge others in any way, as in regard to discrimination against LGBT people, and seek to deprive them of civil and sacramental rights, is nothing short of what happens when one trusts "the creation" rather than "the Creator." Hear the Apostle Paul who says that such people change "...the truth of God into a lie, and [worship] and [serve] the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen." (Romans 1:25)

Also know that anyone, Straight or Gay, who attends or in any other way supports a church or denomination that discriminates against LGBT people, is supporting such idolatry, and is also every bit as culpable in its acts of discrimination as is the person whose rhetoric from the pulpit, or in any other venue, literally kills people, destroys lives, and defames God!
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Thursday, April 17, 2008


“'I know I will be cut off from many within the Christian community, and if so, then they didn’t get the point of the life of Christ. I believe by me living my life honestly and authentically now, I am able to be a better person and a better Christian. '" [For the full article, see here.]

Now, see the following two comments posted as they were written regarding that article concerning a man who courageously chooses to live an authentic Christian life:

Posted by Karen 04/17/08 10:00 CST

This is so sickening. I sure as heck hope that your "teachings" on your show to children all over does not now make you a HYPOCRITE in the eyes of GOD. Please do not from here on out refer to yourself as a "Christian" as the very meaning of this word is to be Christ like - and your lifestyle of CHOICE which you have now "come out" into is totally against the teachings of God in the Scriptures of The Holy Bible. Please, I beg you do not "sell" this lifestyle you have CHOISEN to the young people of the World. You and others like you CANNOT re-write Gods 10 Commendments nor re-invent His meaning behind each and every one of them and there is NO room for misinterpretation of any one of the Ten Commendments. You have CHOSEN your gay sex lifestyle please do not put the BURDEN on God to forgive you and accept YOU for the way YOU are - because HE did not "CREATE" you the way you have CHOSEN. As you should know - God will be there for you when you are ready to REPENT for your sinful ways. Wow, people like YOU make MY World inch closer and closer and closer each minute to the END - and I do not appreciate that. Right is Right and Wrong is Wrong - there is NO in between."

Posted by avennbrown 04/17/08 00:23 CST

Great work Azariah. As a pentecostal high profile preacher i'm well aware of the price one can pay to be honest with yourself and others. I came out 16 years ago now after 22 years trying everything to change my sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual including 16 years of marriage. I could never go back to living in the closet. its a dark place of fear and shame. Living with authenticity and integrity is so liberating. i'm sure your courage will inspire others as mine has.

Jesus says that we are to love and not judge others. Indeed, He says that all of the laws and commandments are fulfilled by love:

"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:35-40)

Given Jesus' teachings, and given that condemnation of homosexuality is found neither in the Ten Commandments, the writings of the prophets, or in the words we have of Jesus, which of these two people who wrote the above comments is a "Bible-believing" Christian?

To put a finer point on it, an atheist wrote:

"Posted by greenpointguy 04/17/08 07:07 CST

As an athiest, I say BRAVO to are a true hero to countless terrified, closeted Christians, forced to follow SELECTIVELY chosen Levitican rules of behavior, written thousands of years ago by a tribe located halfway around the earth, with little to none of the cultural background of Americans today THANK YOU."

This self-proclaimed atheist shows far more understanding of biblical interpretation concerning homosexuality, and shows himself to be far more loving and understanding to another human being who risks losing "it all" for the sake of being an authentic Christian, than the professing "Christ-like" individual, Karen, and all who think like her, who would smugly and self-righteously spew such ignorant and hateful rhetoric against another human being.

It is someone like Azariah Southworth, the host of "The Remix," a popular Christian youth show, who comes out who is a vehicle for separating the wheat from the chaff; the Christian from the non-Christian; the sheep from the wolves.

Indeed, the atheist who commented has shown more understanding of the Gospel than do all the Karens out there.

God bless Azariah Southworth, and all the Azariah Southworths, who take Jesus' lesson to us very seriously and who seek to live out that lesson: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul." (Mark 8:36)

When Azariah Southworth says, regarding his coming out: "I know I will be cut off from many within the Christian community," he is tragically speaking the truth.

The fact is that anyone who would "cut him off," or keep silent when he is "cut off," is not a Christian, and no "Christian community" that is a Christian community in fact, would "cut him off," nor would it cut off any other Christian from full fellowship.

As I've written before, it is my firm belief that Gay people are currently God's instrument to separate the wheat from the chaff in the institutional Church!

UPDATE: 4/19/08 See here.
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Wednesday, April 16, 2008


"I was like, 'You all are a bunch of jealous [f----]. You all are just jealous of everything I have.' Stephen Davis told me I needed to shut up and all that stuff I was saying sounded like some gay [s---], like I'm soft, not like I'm gay. That's all he said. It wasn't like, 'You're gay,' but it got changed to that really quick. So the connotation is Michael Westbrook is gay.' The connotation has faded, but not completely. 'My ex-girlfriend heard it about a year ago from this guy and she went nuts,' Westbrook said. 'Everybody that knows me knows that's the farthest thing from the truth. For about three years, I wanted to lock myself in the house and never come out.'" [Thanks to Towleroad.]

Former NFL player, Michael Westbrook, says that the "Gay tag" still "haunts" him! He denies being Gay, and makes it a point to say that his former girlfriend "went nuts" when she heard about the "allegation," and that "Everybody that knows me knows that's the farthest thing from the truth. For about three years, I wanted to lock myself in the house and never come out."

Notice the hateful epithets associated in the minds of some concerning Gay people; the fact that being a gay man indicates that he's "soft," taking for granted the fiction that there is something wrong with that; the perceived negative stereotypes associated with being Gay are of such a magnitude that Westbrook wanted to lock himself "in the house and never come out."

The macho image of many, if not most, men, certainly contributes to the discrimination against Gay people, especially gay men, and those perceived to be gay men, and has men like Westbrook wanting to escape from the world, be it by locking oneself "in the house and never com[ing] out," or by escaping through solely enmeshing oneself within a gay subculture.

The only way the destructive stereotypes will be abolished is by the acceptance of all human beings, and the recognition that there is a full spectrum of humanity that requires acceptance, lest discrimination be visited upon each and every person who occupies this planet.

Yes, some gay men are effeminate; some straight men are effeminate too! Some lesbians are "masculine looking"; some straight women are "masculine looking" too!

People are tall, short, fat, thin, and all places in between on the whole continuum of the human creation! If we discriminate against any one group of people, all groups of people are ripe for being the targets of discrimination, as we currently see in most segments of society.

The major source of discrimination is the inexplicable need to stereotype others, our inexplicable need to pejoratively view those stereotypes, and the affirmation an reinforcement of those seemingly negative stereotypes by all sorts of rhetoric that range from the seeming "allegations" of a teammate concerning one's sexual orientation to the hateful negative stereotype-affirming rhetoric of your neighborhood pastor regarding sexual orientation.

Even if the stereotype fits, its negative connotations must be fought against by all people of good will, as even the fulfillment of that stereotype represents part of God's creation, and we must all come to realize that everything created by God is good!

However, most Gay people don't fit the stereotypes that are foisted on the public by such people as those behind pulpits and those behind and within the mass media! Life is far too complex, and people are far too multifaceted for that!

Each of us possesses many dimensions and, save for predatory people, those dimensions must be embraced by ourselves and by others. We all have height, so some of us are short and some of us are of statistically average height, and some of us are tall. We are to embrace people of all heights, and not discriminate against them based upon that one characteristic.

Similarly, as with height, the same is to be true of weight, sexual orientation, gender identity, skin color, ethnicity, religion or lack thereof, and any other feature of human beings and of the human condition.

One reason that Gay people are discriminated against is that, since we are all sexual, it can be profoundly psychologically disconcerting to many people when they are forced to confront sexual orientations that they feel they do not share. However, if that were the sole reason behind negative stereotyping and hateful rhetoric against Gay people, even a little bit of reflection would show homophobia to be irrational, even to the person who discriminates against Gay people!

The fact is that homophobia does not appear irrational to most homphobes precisely because very few of us can be put in neat and tidy boxes in any one dimension of life, and one's sexual orientation is no exception. Deep down, most homophobes are threatened by Gay people precisely because consciously and/or unconsciously they can identify with Gay people and their sexual desires, and they are scared to death of that level of identification, so they engage in what we call "reaction formation." (In this context, the truth of the song, "You Always Hurt The Ones You Love," is quite apt.)

In this connection, "Reaction formation" is evidenced when someone who feels some level of homosexual desire unconsciously represses that desire by turning it into a hatred for all homosexuals; he/she often makes that hatred publicly obvious so as to "fool" oneself and others into thinking and believing that he/she is not like "those people," when, in fact, he/she at some level knows that he/she is like "those people."

It's no accident that we have seen so many "moral crusaders" shown up for their hypocrisy, after it is found out that the behavior (and people) they have been so vociferously condemning is manifest in their own lives. They, like Westbrook, are profoundly embarrassed by viewing themselves, and by being viewed by others, as Gay, with all the baggage of fictitious and perceived negative stereotyping associated with it, so they seek a means of escape from that label and, short of locking oneself in the house and never coming out, what better way to escape than to spew venom against, and pejoratively stereotype, Gay people?

Macho culture, heteronormativity, the stereotyping of, and assumptions concerning, what are viewed as "normal" gender characteristics, and the taken for granted belief that marriage requires one man and one woman, are irrational beliefs, considering the diversity of the human creation; the multidimensionality of each human being; the fact that what ever God creates is good!

Jesus tells all those who will listen: "For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb...." (Matthew 19:12)

Gay people were and are made by God, and those who in any way seek to demean or who discriminate against any of God's creation is committing a grievous offense against God!
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Sunday, April 13, 2008


A post was written on April 12th entitled, "Gay Catholics plan 'respectful presence' along pope's route (spew massive chunks alert)" on The Free Republic website.

I'd like you to read, not only the post, which says that "Gay Catholics and especially gay Catholics associated with DignityUSA will launch formal protests in Washington and New York against Benedict and his 'anti-gay stances,'" but also please read the comments attached to that post.

The vilification of LGBT people by such people as those who commented on that post is expressed by ignorant and sometimes hateful people who use as "justification" for their homophobia the most bizarre public face that is presented and that is felt by them, and by many potential allies as well, as personifying Gay people, Gay identity, and Gay life. And many LGBT people are more than willing to provide the ammunition to our enemies who then stereotype all Gay people according to that bizarre public face, and thereby the cause of the acquisition of full and equal civil and sacramental rights is sabotaged!

A grave disservice to the cause of acquiring full and equal civil and sacramental rights is committed by LGBT people who present themselves and, by extension, other LGBT people as "outsiders," "deviants," and as "abnormal," through the language they use (such as referring to themselves by use of hateful words as self-identifiers--for example, please see my posts of March 21st and March 31st on "The Million Fag March"), and by "a presentation of self" that is guaranteed to alienate many potential allies, thus facilitating and reinforcing the homophobia that resonates all too well with those who view themselves as "decent," "moral," and "religious" people.

I am not blaming the victim!

I am blaming those who are enabling and facilitating their and others' victimization and victimhood by their political apathy, reveling in "outsider" status, being content with the crumbs of incrementalism (such as Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions), and, most importantly, presenting a public face that virtually guarantees vilification by others, many of whom feel "righteous" in their condemnation of LGBT people because of that public face.

It is nothing short of irrational to support the presentation of a bizarre face to the public in the names of "liberation" and "diversity," and at the same time expect to win the hearts and minds of others in the struggle for full equality!

It must be understood that the media concentrates on the extremes, and lives by the mantra, "If it bleeds it leads," and so one picture like the above (and there are countless others that have appeared in the mainstream media) weighs far more heavily on the minds of not only homophobes (who are unlikely to be persuaded to embrace Gay people, no matter the public face presented), but of potential allies; such a presentation of self sticks a finger in the eye of potential allies and is counter-revolutionary and counter-productive to the cause of equal rights.

In this connection, I want to post the links to posts that Don Charles who is Blogmaster of the excellent blog, Christ, The Gay Martyr, and I wrote regarding this issue. I'm going to take the posts from Pam's House Blend where they were also posted, in addition to our own blogs, so that you can read the comments each of these posts elicited.

Clearly, I feel very strongly about this issue of self-defeatism and its psychological, social, and political sources and consequences, as full and equal civil and sacramental rights will only be won once a healthier, more mature, face is presented that truly represents the diversity and the inherent dignity of LGBT people and their relationships, just as there is diversity and dignity that are conferred to, and enjoyed by, Straight people and their relationships.

I wrote the first post entitled, On The Need To Grow Up that met with such revulsion that my good friend, Don Charles, was prompted to kindly come to my defense and to the defense of that post.

His post was entitled, In Defense Of Growing Up that was met with at least as much revulsion as was mine.

He then trenchantly followed up on that post with his post entitled, The Necessary Pain Of Growing Up.

Please read or re-read these three posts, along with the comments associated with each of the posts.

And please give these ideas a great deal of consideration, realizing that just as we don't hear Jewish people refer to themselves as "kikes," and we don't hear Italians refer to themselves as "wops," we are not to denigrate ourselves, or fool ourselves into thinking that by using such terms as "queer," "dyke," "fag," and "tranny," that these hateful words are being neutralized by being appropriated.

To do so, and to present bizarre depictions that are bound to offend the sensibilities of those whose hearts and minds we seek to win over, is equivalent to having African-Americans celebrating the image of Stepin Fetchit; to having Jewish people celebrating the image of Shylock; to having Italian people celebrating the image of a career criminal.

The use of pejorative self-identifiers are not in any way serving to neutralize the hatefulness of those terms, but is merely reinforcing in one's own mind, and in the minds of others, the "legitimacy" of those very words; they are terms that must not be appropriated, any more than other hateful and demeaning epithets should be appropriated that have historically and currently been used to confer gross indignities onto LGBT people and onto other minority groups that have suffered discrimination and oppression.

And we must realize that these hateful words are still being used while our LGBT sisters and brothers are being brutalized.

As I've written before: LGBT people and allies must engage in grassroots activism, such as picketing homophobic churches (and there are plenty to choose from!); writing letters to the editors of their local newspapers; having groups of Gay couples who seek to marry continuously agitate for the same marriage rights as their heterosexual counterparts; speaking out to neighbors and friends; boycotting businesses that in any way discriminate against Gay people, and other such modes of activism so as to aid and abet the cause of acquiring full and equal civil rights!

And let's not sabotage that cause!
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Saturday, April 12, 2008


"After Aquinas College canceled a presentation by philosopher and gay-rights advocate John Corvino, a group of students now is looking for an independent venue to host the speaker.

"Corvino's presentation 'What's Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?' was scheduled last week at the college, but administrators postponed it until April 22 after receiving complaints.

"Aquinas President Ed Balog canceled the event Thursday, saying the Catholic school cannot endorse a program that directly opposes church teachings.

"'I'm not trying to keep people from seeing him. I'm trying to prevent the college from sponsoring an event that displays an attack on Catholic teaching values,' Balog said."

[For the full article, see here.]

Dr. John Corvino [Pictured] is being prevented from presenting a rational, logical, view about same-sex love by and at Aquinas College, a RC College. When a college is forced to subscribe to RC, or any church, doctrine, and censor the scholarly exploration of any issue, let alone one that has caused untold suffering to countless numbers of people due to the homophobic doctrines of those denominations and churches, that "college" has ceased to have any credibility as a house of learning, and makes a mockery of any claims it may have that it encourages "academic freedom" if, indeed, it even makes such claims in the first place!

The following is a brief video of Dr. Corvino talking about same-sex love and the foolishness of the homophobic myths surrounding that love; myths that have been promulgated by the RC Church, and most other denominations in the institutional Church, that desperately need to hear what he and others like him have to say about their irrationality and their destruction of countless lives.

However, like the one-dimensional, closed-minded, legalists most of them are, they don't even want to hear what he and others like him have to say on this subject. They certainly don't want to hear that the doctrinal emperor that they, themselves, have created, has no clothes!

They commit the sin of idolatry by worshiping the "golden calf" of their own ignorant, legalistic, man-made fallible doctrines over and above God Whom they falsely claim to represent!

"And Jesus wept!"

Check out this video. I think you'll like it!
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Friday, April 11, 2008


I received the following email today from Kate Burns who, along with her partner Sheila Schroeder, "were arrested for trespassing on September 24, 2007 when they peacefully remained at the Denver Clerk and Recorder Office after being denied the opportunity to apply for a marriage license." (See the video of this incident here.)

This case again highlights the courage needed to acquire full and equal civil rights, and again shows how anything less than the conferring of the designation of "marriage" is the equivalent of "separate and unequal."

This is the email Kate sent:

(Denver, CO) – The trial for lesbian couple Kate Burns and Sheila Schroeder is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Monday, April 14th at the Denver City and County Building located at 1437 Bannock Street, in Courtroom 117M. The two were arrested for trespassing on September 24, 2007 when they peacefully remained at the Denver Clerk and Recorder Office after being denied the opportunity to apply for a marriage license. Burns and Schroeder will be represented by lead counsel Mari Newman of Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP. Their sit-in protest was an effort to achieve basic fairness and marriage equality for all of Colorado's families. Numerous religious leaders have registered their endorsement for the couple by submitting affidavits in support of marriage equality.

“Ms. Burns and Ms. Schroeder are proud participants in one of America’s greatest traditions: speaking out publicly against injustice. Strong and committed individuals like Kate and Sheila are responsible for some of our greatest civil rights achievements from the signing of the Declaration of Independence, to the end of racial segregation, to the legalization of multiracial marriages. One wonders what the current state of our country would be without civil rights heroes like Kate and Sheila. I am proud to represent them," said attorney Mari Newman.

When asked about her decision to participate in their September 24 action, Sheila said, "In the four years since my partner and I had our commitment ceremony, we have experienced numerous acts of discrimination. We are denied the ability to file taxes together. We experienced panic when I had a potentially dangerous health crisis and we had no security that she could attend to me in the hospital. We have spent thousands of dollars in legal fees to combine our property and insure our rights as a couple—when heterosexual couples are granted all of this free without question. This discrimination is unconstitutional and unconscionable. It is my patriotic duty to stand against this discrimination. The world needs more love and more support for loving couples. My church supports this fundamental notion and now it's time my government does too."

Speaking about the continuation of this campaign in Denver and her participation in the action on Sep 24, Kate Burns said, "As a life-long Unitarian Universalist, I seek to practice my religion by marrying my life partner in the church where I grew up. My religion does not condemn love simply because it happens between partners of the same gender. Legislation that prevents me from marrying my partner interferes with the free exercise of my faith tradition and imposes the viewpoint of one religious view—which opposes our union—on all citizens. My union with my partner, Sheila, is a life-long commitment founded on love and respect for each other. I will not allow an unjust law tell me that we are not worthy of being married. Following the principles of nonviolent resistance, I will do whatever it takes to shed light on the immoral and discriminatory legislation that denies basic human rights to us as a couple, and to all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people."

>> WHO: Lesbian couple Kate Burns and Sheila Schroeder; Attorney Mari Newman of Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP.

>> WHAT: Trial for trespassing charges during peaceful nonviolent protest on September 24, 2007.

>> WHEN: Monday, April 14, 8:30 a.m. MDT

>> WHERE: Denver City and County Building, 1437 Bannock Street, Courtroom 117M.

Video of the September 24, 2007 marriage equality action is viewable at .
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Thursday, April 10, 2008


"'How sad it is,' he said, 'That the Church should be so obsessed with this particular issue of human sexuality when God's children are facing massive problems-- poverty, disease, corruption, conflict...'

"'We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about-our very skins,' he wrote. 'It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups.'"

[For the full article, see here.]

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the sane voices in the institutional Church who not only refuses to major in the minors, but sees that civil rights for one group requires civil rights for all groups! LGBT people deserve and require the very same civil and sacramental rights enjoyed by all other citizens, and he clearly sees that fact and knows that being a Christian requires him to speak about that fact every chance he gets.

All too often we see smug, arrogant, judgmental legalists claiming to be Christians and claiming to speak for God. It's refreshing to see a Christian in action!
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Wednesday, April 9, 2008


"A SENIOR minister of a Sydney Anglican parish has made an extraordinary attack on the High Court judge Michael Kirby [Pictured], warning he would face the wrath of God if he remained unrepentant as a gay man.

"The rector of St Stephen's Church in Bellevue Hill, the Reverend Richard Lane, denounced the judge for calling himself a Christian Anglican while living in an openly gay relationship and warned as a 'messenger, watchman and steward of the Lord in the Anglican Church of Australia', he faced God's judgment.

"To call himself a Christian Anglican was a 'perversion of truth' and to continue to do so without changing his lifestyle would brand him, like Herod, a 'coward, a liar, a deceiver' and a 'lawless one'.

"'I appeal to you to cast yourself on the mercy of Jesus … That is admit your sin, confess your wrongdoing and turn in humble repentance to the Lord Jesus, who alone can forgive you,' Mr Lane said."

[For the full article, see here.]

I don't know what god the "Reverend" Richard Lane worships, but it's certainly not the God of the Bible! He, like all too many professing "Christians," seems to delight in castigating and condemning; heaping judgment while showing a smug self-righteousness that is completely antithetical to Jesus' Commandment to all who would be His disciples to love and not judge others.

Judge Kirby gave an excellent response to Lane's diatribe: "To defy modern knowledge and to stick to uninformed interpretations is truly irrational. To do so selectively is specially so. It is a reason why the churches are losing rational adherents."

Judge Kirby is absolutely correct!

Jesus has made it crystal clear that the only one in this situation who is "perverting the truth, and who shows himself to be "a coward, a liar, a deceiver and a lawless one" is Lane, whose very words defame all Christians worthy of the name; cast aspersions on Christianity; does a tremendous disservice to his denomination, and are words that spit in the very face of God Himself!

"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7:1-2)

"Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things." (Romans 2:1)

If there is anyone in this situation in special need of God's mercy, it's Rev. Lane and all those of his ilk!
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Tuesday, April 8, 2008


"As the country considers who to elect as the next President, the so called 'leader of the free world,' I wonder, where are our leaders? Who represents the LGBT community on a national and international stage?

"Is there anyone?

"Recent months have brought several disturbing events in our community. Lawrence King was shot in his classroom after being teased and harassed for being gay. Simmie Williams was killed while wearing a dress in Fort Lauderdale. Just yesterday, Duchy Trachtenberg, a Montgomery County Council member who authored a bill outlawing discrimination against transgendered people, announced that she is receiving death threats.

"And Joe Solmonese is running around telling our legislators to vote for a non-inclusive ENDA bill?

[For the full article, see here]

Sara Whitman wrote an excellent article about the LGBT movement being bereft of leaders who didn't even consider it important enough to take time out of their schedules and attend the funeral of fifteen year old Lawrence King who was murdered at the hands of a fourteen year old whom he asked to be his valentine.

In this connection, please see this video made by my friend, Dylan Scholinski, who wrote the excellent book, "The Last Time I Wore A Dress," that details his mental hospitalization at the age of 15 for "not acting like a girl" (he was born female; once called Daphne), and how he was treated there, and the ignorance of his psychiatrists regarding their understanding and acceptance of what they still unfortunately call "Gender Identity Disorder."

The very term, "Gender Identity Disorder," assumes that there is a "healthy" and an "unhealthy" way to express or present oneself in terms of gender. All traits, characteristics, and behaviors can be seen to be on a continuum, and one size doesn't fit all, regardless of what many, or even most, people may think or view as "acceptable" or "normal."

Just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two people are alike, and, save for preying on others, all traits and behaviors are to be embraced as part of the human condition and of God's creation.

God specializes in diversity! And we are to acknowledge, respect, and embrace that diversity!

It's a crying shame that the killer of Lawrence King, and so many others like him, never internalized that basic fact!

And it's a crying shame that those who view themselves as "leaders" of the LGBT rights movement didn't think it important enough to attend Lawrence's funeral, and both pay their respects to him and to his memory, and also galvanize and express outrage at this loss that mirrors the loss of countless LGBT people through the ignorance and hatred that infects so many people and institutions of society.
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Sunday, April 6, 2008


"In the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, we are proud to be let onto the bus, so we don’t raise a fuss about having to sit in the back. If a church will smile at us and treat us nicely, we will gladly sing in their choir and fill their offering plates, even though they won’t marry us, or ordain us, or treat us like real children of God.

"We gladly accept a concession like domestic partnership, which is similar to but still substantially less than marriage. We are willing to throw members of our own community under the bus, so we support hate crimes legislation that does not include protections for our transgender brothers and sisters."

[For the full article, see here.]

Rev. Michael Piazza wrote an excellent article that must be taken to heart by everyone who is truly concerned about social justice for all people. It's easy to pay homage to a dead hero and at the same time turn a blind eye to what made him or her a hero in the first place.

The person becomes enshrined after he or she is dead, but the cause for which that person lived and died is virtually ignored!
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Saturday, April 5, 2008


"Several U.S. mainline Protestant denominations are about to face their latest showdowns on one of the most vexing issues since slavery: whether to break from biblical morality as traditionally understood to allow clergy with homosexual partners and to sanction blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.

"'Mainline' groups (predominantly white, with early American roots, and affiliated with the National Council of Churches) contain vocal, well-organized liberal and evangelical combatants. The resulting dispute 'certainly has taken a big toll,' says Jack Haberer of Presbyterian Outlook, an independent magazine that airs varied views. 'For some, it's the total compromise of all things moral. For others, it's the compromise of all things just,' and these "polar positions" dominate discussions while many yearn for compromise.

"The disagreement could be one factor in mainline shrinkage. Current memberships of major groups affected, with their declines since 1970 (including predecessor bodies):

"Episcopal Church: 2.15 million members; down 34 percent
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 4.77 million; down 16 percent
Presbyterian Church (USA): 3.03 million; down 25 percent
United Church of Christ: 1.22 million; down 38 percent
United Methodist Church: 8 million; down 25 percent"

[For the full article, see here.]

For convenience, people talking about the institutional Church differentiate between "liberals" and "conservatives," the former primarily being concerned with "justice" and the latter primarily being concerned with "morality." The fact is that each Christian, just as each church and denomination, must see that both "justice" and "morality" are two sides of the same coin of the Gospel that each is charged with preaching and living out.

Mainline denominations have lost ground as measured by membership and attendance over the years, and such disputes over same-sex love have gone a long way in highlighting the political aspects of most of the institutional Church that has been seen by many intelligent, sensitive people as having trumped the passion for "justice" and "morality," as defined and required by the Gospel.

The only Gospel to be found in Christianity is: grace (God's unmerited favor to us); faith (trusting God over and above seen circumstances); love, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness. There is no other Gospel!

So, "morality" in the context of the Gospel requires that justice be affirmed, yokes of bondage removed, love to be the measure of all things, grace and compassion to be extended to others.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines "morality" as follows: "The relation of conformity or nonconformity to the moral standard or rule; quality of an intention, a character, an action, a principle, or a sentiment, when tried by the standard of right."

In the context of the Gospel, the very heartbeat and outworking of Christianity itself, the "moral standard or rule," the "principle" and "sentiment" that is to "tried by the standard of right," is that of grace, compassion, and love.

To elevate tradition to the point that it makes void the Word of God (Matthew 15:3) so that "justification" can be made to tenaciously adhere to the status quo, elevating the political over the moral, subordinating the Gospel message to mere fallible human beings' interpretation of certain selected parts of Scripture, makes a mockery of the living organism of the Church which is to be a vehicle of God to spread the "good news" of the fact that Christ has set us free.

To further entangle others in yokes of bondage to be in accord with one's mind-set, allowing tradition to trump the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian and in the life of the Church, not only does a tremendous disservice to others (as historically seen in professing Christians' and the institutional Church's treatment of Native Americans, women, African-Americans, and LGBT people), but may well also be seen to be a contributing factor to the downward spiral virtually all of the mainline denominations are experiencing.

And, to the degree that these denominations continue to dispute the dignity and civil and sacramental rights that are to accrue to all of God's children, that downward spiral is very well deserved!
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Friday, April 4, 2008


This email from Soulforce is both a homage to the great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, and also reminds us that we are in the same battle for justice in fighting for full civil and sacramental rights for LGBT people.

A Special Message from the Executive Director of Soulforce

Dear Friend of Soulforce,

Today, on the fortieth anniversary of his assassination, we honor the tremendous impact of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy on our nation, even as we acknowledge that there is still much to be done to end racism and poverty in America. The life of Dr. King was cut short because he spoke truth to power and took justice to the streets through marches, vigils, rallies, sit-ins, bus boycotts, and other public demonstrations that exposed bigotry and discrimination. Many clergy leaders of that era tried to disguise the ugliness of their prejudices as "religious freedom" and repeatedly chastised King for his disruptive and uninvited interference.

But King understood that it was his moral obligation to get in the way of injustice. His constructive nonviolent strategies sought to create what he called "healthy tension" that forced a racist society to pause, reflect, and consider the indecency embodied in their discrimination. By exposing and dramatizing injustice so that it could no longer be ignored, King's direct actions forced the public to confront oppression and begin the necessary steps of negotiation toward full equality and freedom.

In his famous essay, Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. King responded to religious leaders of his day who publicly criticized him for being "impatient" and "disruptive:"

"First, I must confess that over the last few years I have become gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season". Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."

Sadly, it appears that most religious institutions and denominations have not learned much from history or from Dr. King's teachings -- when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the church still prefers "order" over justice.

In just three weeks, Soulforce and concerned citizens from across the country will converge on Fort Worth, Texas, for the general conference of the United Methodist Church. We come determined to continue the peaceful march toward freedom we began at the UMC general conferences of 2000 and 2004. While LGBT people defend their own dignity and struggle toward liberation, there are those within the Methodist denomination who would seek to attack the disenfranchised and label them "disrespectful, disruptive, and self-righteous." Take a look at this resolution against the people of Soulforce that some Methodists are planning to introduce during the upcoming general conference (link to full text of the petition at the end of this email):

On Soulforce

...WHEREAS, Soulforce does not respect the right of religious bodies to make their own internal decisions concerning their beliefs and policies, but has become infamous for illegally disrupting and interrupting the activities of denominational conventions and religious institutions to demand that these religious denominations and institutions submit to allowing this outside group dictate a rewriting of their beliefs; and...

...WHEREAS, during a church trial for a self-avowed, practicing homosexual United Methodist minister in the Pacific-Northwest Conference in March 2004, dozens of Soulforce activists took illegal actions of "civil disobedience" to attempt to stop the due process required by our Book of Discipline, even physically blocking participating church leaders from entering the building where the trial took place (Melanthia Mitchell, "Wash. Trial Starting for Lesbian Minister," Associated Press, 17 March 2004; available from ; accessed 17 October 2007); and

WHEREAS, Soulforce has loudly disrupted the 2000 and 2004 General Conferences of The United Methodist Church, taking valuable time away from our church proceedings to denounce our biblical teachings that sex is for marriage and to attempt to intimidate delegates to vote in line with their agenda; and...

...Be it therefore resolved, that the 2008 General Conference hereby declares its love for the United Methodist Church, even if Soulforce and some of its supporters may not love it; and

Be it further resolved, that we decry the disrespectful, disruptive, and self-righteous tactics of Soulforce as beyond the bounds of appropriate ways to express disagreement within religious communities; and

Be it further resolved, that we call on Soulforce to respect the right of The United Methodist Church to set its own standards of belief and policy without their uninvited interference; and

Be it further resolved, that we discourage all of our members from providing support to Soulforce.
In 1939, the Methodist Church told African Americans they were not welcome in the same church pews as whites and the Central Jurisdiction was formed as a racial compromise. During the years of Central Jurisdiction, blacks in the Methodist Church struggled for both desegregation in society and reform within the church. This insulting discrimination against African Americans was caused by the UMC's unwillingness to be one church. At their 2008 General Conference, the United Methodist Church will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the end of Central Jurisdiction (it was eliminated by action of the 1968 General Conference). In doing so, the Methodist church is acknowledging that it once was on the wrong side of justice when it came to racial equality -- until it had a change of heart. Meanwhile, this same denomination seems unable to learn from history and apply those lessons to the liberation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people sitting in their pews. Rev. Jim Lawson, Rev. Phil Lawson, and Rev. Gil Caldwell, all leaders during the civil rights movement, will join Soulforce in Forth Worth to share their insights on the parallels between Central Jurisdiction and the current struggle for equality by LGBT people within the United Methodist Church.

Forty-five years ago, Dr. King said "So here we are moving toward the exit of the twentieth century with a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a tail-light behind other community agencies rather than a headlight leading men to higher levels of justice..."

Today, Soulforce asks: In another forty-five years, will the United Methodist Church proudly recall a history of becoming a bold headlight toward justice, or will it look back with shame for choosing to remain a tail-light? We call on the United Methodist Church to live up to its motto and truly welcome and affirm all people with "Open Minds, Open Hearts, and Open Doors."

Please join Soulforce in bringing truth and justice to the United Methodist Church. Go to for detailed plans, the daily activity schedule, and hotel information. The last day to make reservations at our discounted rate for the hotel on Friday night and Saturday night is April 18, so be sure to make your reservations soon.

Stand with us in Forth Worth -- together we can continue Dr. King's legacy of seeking justice and equality for all people.


Jeff Lutes, MS, LPC
Executive Director
Soulforce, Inc.
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