1208 posts categorized "Religion"

January 30, 2015

AFA tries to have it both ways with Bryan Fischer

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The American Family Association has written to the Southern Poverty Law Center repudiating certain statements by its longtime spokesman and talk show host Bryan Fischer, demanding that SPLC stop attributing those statements to AFA.

SPLC isn't having it:

In the Jan. 28 letter to the SPLC, AFA general counsel Patrick Vaughn listed a series of offensive comments from Fischer and said the organization “has never held these views and wishes to clarify that it still rejects such sentiments.”

Vaughn also wrote that Fischer would no longer serve as an AFA spokesperson or its director of issue analysis. However, Fischer will continue to host his two-hour, daily Focal Point radio show and write blog posts. Vaughn wrote that the AFA’s radio network provides a “diversity” of viewpoints but that Fischer’s statements do not represent the views of the AFA.

In response, Cohen wrote, “The fact that the AFA is continuing to allow Mr. Fischer to host a daily radio show and blog on its website also makes us question the AFA’s sincerity. Sponsoring Mr. Fischer’s racism, anti-Semitism, and hatred of the Muslim and the LGBT communities in the name of ‘diversity’ says as much about the AFA as it does about Mr. Fischer....

“Without ending Mr. Fischer’s talk show, without apologizing for the bigoted statements that he, Mr. Wildmon, and others associated with the AFA have made, and without making it crystal clear that the AFA will not tolerate any such statements in the future, the AFA’s 11th-hour disavowal of Mr. Fischer appears to serve only one purpose: to give the AFA a degree of plausible deniability while it continues to spew hateful rhetoric,” Cohen wrote. “It’s a shell game and a transparent one at that.”

Yes.

Meet Christian nationalist David Lane

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If you think AFA's Bryan Fischer is extreme, check out Christian nationalist David Lane, who has close ties with Republican leaders. Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports of Lane:

He has:

  • Argued that “homosexuals praying at the Inauguration” of President Obama in 2013 will provoke God’s wrath in the form of “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa.”
  • Urged conservative Christians to prepare for martyrdom in their fight to “save the nation from the pagan onslaught imposing homosexual marriage [and] homosexual scouts.”
  • Favorably quoted a Christian author who said that “same-sex marriage practiced universally is suicide. To survive gays and lesbians are parasites, depending for their cultural survival on couples that birth the next generation.”
  • Explained why homosexuality is a threat to freedom: “Homosexuality is debauchery. God’s loyalty and fidelity — that guard the nation — make sustainable freedom dependent on seeking virtue.”
  • Said homosexuality is part of a Marxist “psychological conditioning” plot.

January 29, 2015

AFA's Bryan Fischer not really fired

RWW reports:

Bryan Fischer kicked off his radio program today by refuting reports that he had been fired by the American Family Association, explaining that he has simply given up his role as an official AFA spokesman while retaining his role as a daily radio host for AFA's radio outlet, American Family Radio.

Fischer said that his designation as an AFA spokesman while he also served as a radio host was creating confusion and resulting in the personal opinions he expressed on the radio being unfairly attributed to the AFA. As such, Fischer will no longer serve as an official voice for AFA but will continue to spew his bigotry from the AFA's radio stations.

So apparently Rachel Maddow was misled.

Heritage Action urges Hill action against pro-gay D.C. legislation

GLAA anticipated this sort of thing. Follow the link to the new Home Rule section of our policy brief, out this week. We have briefed Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and the Human Rights Campaign, and they are on the case.

January 28, 2015

AFA fires Bryan Fischer

Fischer

Mediaite reports. It involves RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and a bunch of RNC folk heading to Israel on a trip paid for by American Family Association, whose longtime spokesman Bryan Fischer has said that Jews have no right to practice their religion in America. Below is the video from the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.

One Man's Pastry Is Another Man's Poison

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My column for this week's Blade is now online. Here is an excerpt:

Back home at the Iowa Freedom Summit, Dr. Ben Carson joked to reporters about a baker putting poison in a gay couple's wedding cake. (Is the GOP running a contest to find the most deranged person who thinks he or she can be president?) In related news, a man filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division last year against the Azucar Bakery in Denver for refusing to write "God hates gays" on a cake. This is the new religious freedom: muddling the difference between denying service to a minority and refusing to assist expressions of intolerance. Perhaps we should train shop owners to distinguish real customers from trolls.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, whose demotion by Pope Francis has not shut him up, recently discussed what he called the Church's "man crisis" and blamed "radical feminists" for priests raping boys. Seriously. Eminence, if we get you another fabulous set of embroidered vestments, could you stuff an altar cloth in your mouth for the rest of the year?

Read the whole thing here.

Oh I don't know, could it be ... Satan?!

AFA's Bryan Fischer has a great deal of chutzpah to call other people vicious when he does nothing else but vilify and attack. But he says gay people are of Satan simply because we demand our birthright of equality. His fever-pitched rhetoric could inflame someone to violence. But people of his ilk never take responsibility for the poison they put out.

January 27, 2015

Mormon church offers gay people some rights, with a condition

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(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

WaPo reports:

After years of behind-the-scenes meetings between LGBT advocates and top Mormon leaders, church officials Tuesday announced for the first time general support for legislation to protect LGBT people in areas such as housing and employment – as long as accommodations are made to protect the freedom of religious people who oppose such measures.

Experience teaches us not to trust vague "religious freedom exemptions." This article does not specify what that means in this case. I know what it meant to the Archdiocese of Washington in 2009--a sweeping exemption to the DC Human Rights Act. No. We are not demanding "all or nothing," we are demanding equality, and we keep pressing until we win. Partial steps are one thing, poison pills another. I don't want marriage with an asterisk.

January 22, 2015

Those mythical 'no-go zones'

January 20, 2015

Kirchick: ISIS goes medieval on gays

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Jamie Kirchick at The Daily Beast has an interesting piece on the recent execution of gay men by ISIS by throwing them off a building ledge.

I have never understood how any god who demands such barbarity could possibly deserve anything but curses. Incidentally, if you think your god is any better, go back and re-read your holy book.

Incidentally, Kirchick is talking about radical Islam, not Islam in general. Just as social conservatives cherry-pick scriptural passages that suit them, those who prefer a less barbaric faith can do the same. This cafeteria approach to Holy Writ is done by everyone, but few admit it. The point is that you can believe what you want. You do not have to believe in a god that commands savagery.

Tweeting @Pontifex

I figure someone at the Vatican reads the papal Twitter feed. So I offer my two cents.

A gay-friendlier Vatican, or window dressing?

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(Photo Illustration by Emil Lendof/The Daily Beast)

This article by Justin Jones at The Daily Beast, on unofficial gay-themed art tours at the Vatican, overstates the degree of the Vatican's and the Pope's pro-gayness, as became clear the other day when Francis spoke in the Philippines and called same-sex marriage a threat to the family. That should not be a surprise to anyone, nor does it mean we should not continue to engage the Church on a range of issues. But the welcome contrast with Benedict (whom I regard as a classic vicious closet case) is not everything.

Still, I will be interested in the Vatican's reaction to gay-themed art tours, as I am curious about their reaction to Michael Sam's twitpic of his proposal to Vito atop the dome of St. Peter's. While doctrine and policy are my main focus, symbolic gestures have their value, as do simple courtesy and respect. The latter, however, are not advanced by calling us a threat to the family. We must remember that the Curia remains powerful.

January 17, 2015

A note to @Pontifex

In the belly of the beast

Michael Sam proposed to Vito Cammisano in the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. In the background you can see Bernini's Colonnade and St. Peter's Square. What a marvelous locale, tacitly challenging the Church's denigration of our families. Early reports indicate that St. Peter's did not collapse.

Congrats to Michael and Vito, and best wishes for their happiness.

January 16, 2015

Nothing Is Sacred

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(Washington Blade cartoon by Ranslem)

Here's an excerpt from my latest column, concerning the deadly terrorist attacks last week in Paris at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket:

Conservative pundits indignantly asked why there were no condemnations by Muslim leaders of the attacks, when in fact there was a flood of them. On the other hand, it was jarring when several despotic regimes sent representatives to a massive Paris march for the murdered cartoonists despite their own repression of journalists.

Any facile sorting of friend from foe was refuted by news reports. The last victim in the Charlie Hebdo attack was Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet. During the kosher market incident, Muslim employee Lassana Bathily saved several hostages from terrorist Amedy Coulibaly by hiding them in a walk-in freezer.

A news report referred to Coulibaly's "fluent French and broken Arabic." Having come home to roost, the West's imperialist chickens are less likely to fit the profile. Only cooperation across faiths and cultures can save us from endless retributive justice. Defending secular freedoms against racism and sectarianism is the best response to Marine Le Pen.

Read Blade editor Kevin Naff's bracing editorial here.

Pope Francis: Same-sex marriage is harming the family

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Rhuaridh Marr reports at Metro Weekly that Pope Francis said this in the Philippines:

The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage.

At last we have an answer to the question, "Is the Pope Catholic?": Sadly, yes.

Pope Francis: there are limits to free speech

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(AP photo by Alessandra Tarantino)

@Pontifex reacts to the Charlie Hebdo murders by reminding us that Holy Mother the Church, Inc. is not a democracy. There are limits to freedom of expression, he says, and he doesn't mean things like falsely crying "Fire!" in a crowded theater. He means offending someone's religion. Well I am sorry, Your Holiness, but you are wrong. Put me on the rack if you don't like it. Oh, that's right, you don't have the power to do that any more. Well that's a relief.

I warned everyone a year ago not to commit the sin of wishful thinking with this charming pope. He is not quite the liberal some people were hoping for.

OMG, evil pentagram symbols on a school bus

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WMC Action News in Memphis reports the latest in satanic subversion.

Wait, aren't there 50 of these devilish symbols on THE AMERICAN FLAG? I'm just trying to be helpful. Just one more comment: given that this kind of aggressive ignorance and paranoia are running rampant, anyone who is comparatively sane and reasonable, yet makes excuses for not voting, deserves to be possessed by demons.

There is no faith but theirs

This 'winger video appears to suggest that the fired Atlanta fire chief was the only Christian working for the Atlanta government. I mean, if Atlanta will no longer allow Christians to hold jobs, then either there's a massive purge about to happen, or he was the only one. Never mind the fact that the mayor who fired him was also Christian. If you don't agree with the most extreme and intolerant version of Christianity, the nut jobs won't even acknowledge your faith. Because there is no religion but theirs. And guess which major party is fine with this insanely obnoxious and socially destructive position?

January 12, 2015

More helpful comments from Bill Donohue

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League offers another display of his Christlike forgiveness of those who give him offense.

(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)

Netanyahu and Abbas join heads of state at Paris march against hatred

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(Reuters photo)

The Independent reports:

France’s President Francois Hollande asked Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu not to attend Paris’s phenomenal march against hatred on Sunday, claiming that his presence would be divisive, it has been reported.

The unity rally in Paris was fronted by more than 50 world leaders, who all linked arms as they led the march from the Place de la République in eastern Paris, where 1.5 million people gathered to honour the 17 victims of last week’s bloody massacre that left the country reeling.

In an unprecedented show of solidarity, the Israeli Prime Minister was seen marching just four people apart from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, while Prime Minister David Cameron’s appearance marked his first ever street march. Demonstrators carried placards brandishing the phrases “I am Charlie” and “I am Jewish”.

Well there's a shot you don't see every day. British PM David Cameron is out of frame to the left.

Notably absent from the massive rally, which was attended by some three million people, was any representative from the Obama administration. This report from WSJ is an example of the coverage. Of course the right wing would have attacked the President whether he attended or not. Had he been there, "Obama marches with Abbas" would have been one of the headlines. I thought he should have gone. I am sure we will hear more on this, since endless attacks on this president are what some people seem to live for.

January 10, 2015

Burke: Church Has A 'Man Crisis'

WKBT-TV reports on the latest howler from Cardinal Raymond Burke, in which he blames women for what he calls the Church's "man problem," including priest sexual abuse. I suggest you tweet your comments directly to @Pontifex (Burke's boss, Pope Francis).

January 09, 2015

While Europe gathers to rebuke terror, Bill Donohue blames the victims

NYT describes the above video:

Explosions and gunfire were heard at a printing plant outside Paris where the two brothers suspected in the Charlie Hebdo attacks were killed.

As people across Europe gathered to express their outrage at the military-style execution of a dozen people at the satirical Paris weekly, Charlie Hebdo, Catholic League troll Bill Donohue blamed the victims for bringing it on themselves.

Below, a massive rally at the Place Royale in Nantes, France was one of many across Europe in solidarity with those murdered at the satirical Paris weekly, Charlie Hebdo.

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'A medieval form of unreason'

Frank Kameny would have said much the same.

January 08, 2015

ICYMI: Putting It Together in 2015

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My column looking at the year ahead appears in this week's Blade, revised a bit. Here's an excerpt:

2015 promises continued fights against right-wing aggressions that include vagina policing and other gender-based discrimination; attacks on church-state separation; xenophobia; quackery disguised as science; biased profiling and excessive force by police; and criminalization of healthcare issues.

None of these will be resolved by the likely nationwide victory for marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, in the words of Ella Baker, "We who believe in freedom cannot rest." Here are some thoughts for the work ahead.

Curb the language cops. We will win the marriage fight even if some use the misleading phrase "gay marriage." If people who are not belligerent use the wrong pronouns or otherwise display their ignorance, be like my amazingly patient transgender friends and politely clue them in. Creating change requires the politics of addition; we must always seek new ways to connect with people.

Read the whole thing here.

Dinesh D'Souza's hypocrisy on Islamists

Dinesh D'Souza accuses liberals of coddling radical Islamists.

But he himself has actually made common cause with conservative Islamists, as I discussed in a book review in 2007:

His latest book’s provocation starts with the title: The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. But he goes beyond Jerry Falwell’s notorious blaming of feminists, gays and lesbians, the ACLU and People for the American Way. D’Souza actually makes common cause with “traditional Muslims,” who he claims hate America not for our presence in the Middle East but for our decadent culture. Minimizing the vast differences between Western traditions and Islamic and Middle Eastern ones, he calls for making America more tolerable to Islamic obscurantists whose tradition includes no Reformation, no Enlightenment, and no commitment to the personal freedom that has been the engine of the West’s economic success.

Charging the left with a “campaign of cultural imperialism,” D’Souza shows no grasp of free markets. If the success of capitalism and global communication has enabled many young Iranians, for example, to embrace American popular culture, that hardly constitutes a leftist conspiracy.

D’Souza equates licentiousness with leftism, which does not explain why so many otherwise liberal social movements had strong conservative elements: suffragists who were anti-abortion; communists who were homophobic; feminists who advocated censorship; and ministers in the civil rights movement who objected to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s association with Bayard Rustin, a leading organizer and strategist who was gay.

January 07, 2015

Charlie Hebdo and the defense of blasphemy

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(Photo by Thibault Camus / The Associated Press)

NYT reports on today's attack in Paris by masked gunmen at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which killed 12 and wounded 10. Condolences to the families of the victims.

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Some in the West say that people have no right to offend other people's religions. Some assert that Christians would never tolerate blasphemy against their own religion. Both assertions are wrong. Freedom of speech means nothing if not the right to offend.

Some of our most honored literature contains blasphemies. For example, Nobel winner Günter Grass in his greatest novel, The Tin Drum, has his lead character pray to Jesus (quoting from memory), "Athlete of Athletes ... world's champion hanger on the cross by regulation nails, who lasted the longest time and earned the highest possible number of points...." He describes seagulls descending on a horse's head that had been used to fish for eels on the Baltic Sea as "the Holy Ghost descending to feast the Pentacost."

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Grass has lived to a ripe old age. 26 years ago, he led a consortium of writers in guaranteeing publication of the German translation of The Satanic Verses (which btw I read and enjoyed in its English original, as I have several of Salman Rushdie's novels, one of which, The Moor's Last Sigh, has Hindu blasphemies). Whether it's serious lit or South Park, irreverence is essential to our freedoms and must be defended.

January 01, 2015

Putting It Together in 2015

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(Photo by See-ming Lee, United Nations Africa Renewal)

My look at the year ahead in LGBT activism is now up at Bay Windows. Here's an excerpt:

From a liberal perspective, 2015 promises continued fights against right-wing aggressions that include vagina policing and other gender-based discrimination; attacks on church-state separation; xenophobia; quackery disguised as science; biased profiling and excessive force by police; and criminalization of healthcare issues.

None of these will be resolved by the likely nationwide victory for marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, in the words of Ella Baker, "We who believe in freedom cannot rest." Here are some thoughts for the work ahead.

Read the whole thing here.

December 30, 2014

Klingenschmitt praises Fayetteville for voting 'against the Devil'

Right Wing Watch reports. He aggressively opposes non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, yet HE is the one being persecuted.

December 25, 2014

The Queen's Christmas speech focuses on reconciliation

I do not have a fixation on the British royal family as do some Americans I know. But I have to give Her Majesty credit for delivering a very fine speech this Christmas.

A Christmas thought

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(Photo courtesy Voice of America)

A Christmas thought: many of my friends have beliefs that I do not share. Yet none of them has tried to coerce me into adopting or conforming to them. Indeed, some have worked to help protect us from their more belligerent and bullying co-religionists. As a Catholic who left the church 44 years ago, I like many others have been impressed and moved by the Christlike behavior of the first Jesuit Pope, though I remain skeptical that we share the same policy goals.

Which brings us back to our diversity of beliefs and mutual tolerance. We don't have to be the same to give each other credit and respect. And we don't have to get bossy to teach. Blessings to all who have enriched my life with their humor, passion, insights and perspectives, and who have taught by their example. The most awesome examples of courage, generosity, caring and resilience I saw this year were from persecuted LGBT Ugandans. You have given me more than you know. Here is to finding new and fruitful connections in the year ahead, and learning to our benefit that it is not always about us.

December 21, 2014

TLC to Air ‘My Husband’s Not Gay’ Special in January

December 19, 2014

Taliban's massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar

The massacre by Taliban members at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan a few days ago is so shocking I hardly know what to say. I provide the video above of Malala Yousafzai, who received her Nobel Peace Prize only days earlier. Defeating fanatics who are proud of killing children will not be easy. I am glad at least that the atrocity has united Pakistanis against the Taliban. It will be a hard struggle. Below are related articles from Time.

December 13, 2014

Somehow, a horse in a wedding dress refutes marriage equality

Why is a horse in a wedding dress any more related to gay couples than to straight couples? Gay people are not seeking to marry horses, but other human beings. But somehow, this sort of stunt seems to persuade some people.

December 08, 2014

Michigan 'Religious Freedom' bill allows anyone to deny service to LGBT people

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NewNowNext reports:

Over the weekend, Republicans in the Michigan Statehouse passed a “license to discriminate” bill that would give just about anyone the right to refuse service to LGBT people if it conflicted with their religious beliefs.

The broadly written Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow, for example, an EMT to refuse emergency treatment to a gay person or a pharmacist to refuse to refill HIV medication, because God decreed gays and lesbians should be put to death.

The measure is similar to one in Arizona that even right-wing governor Jan Brewer thought went too far and vetoed.

A similar issue arose during the D.C. marriage equality fight in 2009, and the overbroad religious exemption demanded by the Archdiocese of Washington was rejected by Phil Mendelson, then chair of the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee, at GLAA's urging.

December 07, 2014

A question for Pope Francis

If Bill Donohue is your mental health consultant, you're in trouble

The latest from Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

December 06, 2014

Tempe pastor cites Leviticus in calling for mass killing of gays

Pastor Steven Anderson of Tempe, Arizona cites Leviticus 20:13 in calling for killing all gay people. I am sure he did not intend to make the case for religion as mental illness, but see for yourself.

November 27, 2014

Pat Robertson: gays are destroying everything the Pilgrims worked for

As they say on the old Warner Bros cartoons, aaaah, shadaaaap!

Huckabee defiles Holocaust tour

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, not content with comparing abortion to the Holocaust, declares that gay marriage destroys the foundation of civilization.