1233 posts categorized "Religion"

March 26, 2015

Quick backlash to reckless Indiana 'religious freedom' law enactment

Advocate reports on the quick and harsh reactions to Indiana Governor Pence signing what is in fact a religious supremacy bill, not a religious freedom bill--unless you mean the freedom to discriminate and split apart our diverse society.

My God is not a bully. I will not worship a god who is a bully. I will not obey a bullying god. I will not attend a bullying church. I will not respect bullying clergy. I will not remain silent as religious bullies seek to impose their beliefs on others in the guise of "religious freedom" bills. I live in a religiously and culturally diverse society, where faith-based discrimination in the public square undermines the civic order and social cohesion. I will fight the bullies. I will demand that editors and reporters call religious supremacy what it is, and not let them swallow the right-wing spin about religious freedom. Please join me in this recognition and this fight to uphold secular American values.

Indiana governor signs religious supremacy bill

Mike_Pence_insert_public_domain

Michael K. Lavers at the Blade reports:

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday signed into law a controversial religious freedom bill that critics contend would allow businesses to deny service to same-sex couples.

We have a lot of fighting ahead. It is not religious freedom our opponents want, but religious supremacy. And we've got to say so. We've got to challenge editors and headline writers to stop swallowing the right wing spin. I don't mean to pick on the Blade, where I am a columnist. Almost everyone is making this mistake. We have to stop parroting this false framing of the issue. The public desperately needs to be better educated on what is truly at stake.

March 23, 2015

Indiana House passes bill to grant faith-based exemption to laws

This new trend in statehouses is as radical as it is popular. It is not about religious freedom, but about religious supremacy. It is an assault on the secular sphere where citizens of many backgrounds and faiths encounter one another. Such laws would undermine any civil society in which everyone is not the same. What other reckless measures will the far right think up?

Pope Francis Dines With LGBT Inmates In An Italian Prison

I remain skeptical of his intentions regarding policy, and I am a policy man; but this pope's pastoral instincts are flawless. Thank you, @Pontifex.

'Religious Freedom' Bills Fail, As More People See What They’re Really About

Interesting read from The Daily Beast on the backlash to the anti-gay backlash.

(Hat tip: Robert Naylor, Jr.)

States propose wave of anti-LGBT bills

Many of us have been saying that increasingly, the fight for LGBT equality will be in the states. Well here it is.

Random comment on Ted Cruz campaign launch at Liberty University

Norton Gearing Up for Defense in the House of D.C.’s Anti-Bias Bills

EHNbanner

Contact: Benjamin Fritsch – o: 202-225-8050, c: 202-225-8143
March 23, 2015

Norton Gearing Up for Defense in the House of D.C.’s Anti-Bias Bills

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Following what appear to be new threats against two anti-discrimination bills recently passed by the District of Columbia Council, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said that she will oppose any effort to overturn the bills in the U.S. House of Representatives as strongly as she indicated last week she would oppose the disapproval resolutions introduced in the Senate. In an interview with Roll Call, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over D.C., said about the D.C. bills, “we want to take some action in the House too” and that “we’re still working on that.” The two bills are the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act, which prohibits employers in D.C. from discriminating against employees based on their personal reproductive health decisions, and the Human Rights Amendment Act, which protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students from discrimination by educational institutions in the District.

“I still hope that Chairman Chaffetz will respect D.C. home rule as he said he would when he took the chairmanship of the Committee,” Norton said. “I was not surprised that Senator Ted Cruz would leap at the opportunity to introduce two disapproval resolutions last week, perhaps in anticipation of announcing his bid for presidency at Liberty University, where reproductive choice and sexual orientation are hot-button issues. I recognize that the District’s protection of employees who do not want to answer to their employers on their reproductive choices as well as its protection of LGBT students who are singled out for discrimination at their own universities may not be the policies of other jurisdictions. We who live in the nation’s capital are American citizens and demand the same respect that is given to citizens in other jurisdictions whose local governments pass similar legislation. I appreciate the more than 50 organizations that have stepped up to oppose these disapproval resolutions. The broad coalition fully recognizes that D.C. residents not only deserve their support, but also that attempts to curtail rights here can easily spread to other parts of the country.”

Under the Home Rule Act of 1973, all D.C. bills must be transmitted to Congress for a review period before they can take effect. The anti-discrimination bills were transmitted for a 30-legislative-day review period on March 6, 2015. A bill takes effect at the expiration of the review period unless a resolution of disapproval is enacted into law during that period. Norton has prevented a disapproval resolution from being enacted into law since 1991.

###

Catholic bishops, including Cardinals Wuerl and O'Malley, urge congressional overturn of D.C. anti-discrimination bills

3bishops
(Wuerl at left, O'Malley at right. Photo credit: Ed Pfueller, Catholic University of America)

More lies from Catholic Church leaders urging Congress to interfere with DC anti-discrimination legislation related to LGBT students and reproductive health. These clerics do not want religious freedom, they want religious supremacy. (Reported by Roll Call)

March 19, 2015

Senators Working To Subject Children To Religious Discrimination At School

O-TED-CRUZ-facebook

Republican Senators Ted Cruz (TX) and James Lankford (OK) have introduced a resolution of disapproval against two bills passed by D.C., one prohibiting employer discrimination for reproductive healthcare decisions, the other protecting LGBT students. Cruz and Langford claim that the bills are attacks on religious freedom.

Cruz is setting a pattern of fibbing about legislation. Last week he demanded the repeal of the non-existent federal Common Core law. His cries of religious freedom being under attack are the opposite of the truth. He is defending discrimination. A growing GOP trend is to dress up anti-LGBT discrimination as religious freedom. What they want is not freedom but supremacy.

As you may know, one of the two targeted bills, the Human Rights Amendment Act, which among other things repeals the noxious, congressionally imposed Armstrong Amendment dating from the late 1980s, was requested by GLAA. Here are other news stories on the senators' disapproval resolution:

CA: gay death penalty ballot measure will likely proceed to signature gathering stage

Because Jesus, or something.

March 17, 2015

Presbyterians approve same-sex marriage

Good for them, but it comes too late to impress me. Years and years of hand-wringing and soulful discussions and hair-pulling and whatever other drama, just to end up with the bleeding obvious. How many people did they turn away in the meantime? How many gave up and left, or stayed and repressed themselves to avoid being shunned? You can't get back lost time and lost lives and loves. Sorry, but that's how it feels to me.

March 14, 2015

Norton slams conservative attacks on pro-choice, pro-LGBT D.C. legislation

100818_eleanor_norton_ap_328

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) issued the following news release on March 10 (and pardon my tardiness):

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today reaffirmed her commitment to defend two anti-discrimination bills that the District of Columbia transmitted to Congress on March 6, after the Heritage Foundation and other conservative organizations once again called on Congress to pass disapproval resolutions to overturn these two bills during the congressional review period. The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act would prohibit D.C. employers from discriminating against employees based on their personal reproductive health decisions, and the Human Rights Amendment Act would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender D.C. students from discrimination.

“The Heritage Foundation and its social conservative allies are trying to start a new social issues war using District of Columbia local laws in a Congress that has yet to show it can govern the nation,” Norton said. “They picked the wrong jurisdiction, and they picked the wrong issues. We are not going to have our local citizens answering to employers on their personal reproductive health care decisions. And we are not going to have our LGBT students stigmatized and denied by their own universities and schools. We are already working with a broad coalition representing local and national organizations to defend D.C.’s local anti-discrimination laws from congressional interference.”

Bill 20-0790, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014, was transmitted to Congress on March 6 for its congressional review period. The projected Law Date is April 17.

Bill 20-0803, the Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014--which was written at the request of GLAA and (among other things) repeals the congressionally-imposed Armstrong Amendment--was transmitted to Congress on the same date, and has the same projected law date of April 17.

The right-wing group Heritage Action issued an alert attacking these two bills on January 29. Its characterization of the bills is inaccurate. GLAA is working with Congresswoman Norton and allied groups to defend both bills from congressional interference.

March 13, 2015

Unraveling the Church Ban on Gay Sex

O-SALVATORE-CORDILEONE-facebook
(Photo of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone courtesy Huffington Post)

Gary Gutting in NYT writes:

Last month, Salvatore Cordileone, the archbishop of San Francisco, made controversial changes to a handbook for Catholic high school teachers in his jurisdiction. The changes included morals clauses, one of which forbids those teachers from publicly endorsing homosexual behavior. There are plausible legal and educational objections to this move. But there is a deeper issue, one that raises fundamental questions about Catholic teachings on homosexuality and other sexual matters.

The archbishop has justified of his decision on the grounds that homosexual acts are “contrary to natural law.” Unlike many religions, Catholicism insists that its moral teachings are based not just on faith but also on human reason. For example, the church claims that its moral condemnation of homosexual acts can be established by rigorous philosophical argument, independent of anything in the Bible.

The primary arguments derive from what is known as the “natural-law tradition” of ethical thought....

Bah. "Natural Law" is religious dogma in pseudoscientific drag. If Cordileone were interested in nature, he would observe the widespread presence of homosexuality to be found in it, rather than dictating to nature as he does. He is lecturing past the graveyard.

Even most Catholics ignore Church teachings on sex, which are outdated and centered on control, not understanding. The RCC morally bankrupted itself with decades of facilitation and coverup of child rapes, and worsened it by evading justice and hiding money to avoid paying judgments. Many bishops remain arrogant, corrupt, intolerant, and steeped in misogyny.

If there is a sin, it is acting like sheep when God did not make us sheep. Let the bishops get their minds around that, respect the laity and women's religious, and stop their bullying, or they will slide further into irrelevance.

March 05, 2015

Focus on the Family: We are a Christian Nation

CitizenLink, founded by Focus on the Family, offers this video purporting to prove that America's founders viewed this as a Christian nation. Never mind the First Amendment's opening words, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." They provide quotes from several Founders, the first of which is lexicographer Noah Webster, who was all of 17 on July 4, 1776. Setting that goof aside, they treat any positive reference to God by our forebears as proving that this is a Christian nation, which is not at all the case. And the Founders were by no means fundamentalists. Today's religious bullies would hardly recognize Deists as Christians at all.

March 04, 2015

Cal Thomas: gay marriage is a sign of the End Times

Calthomasconvo
(Photo credit: Liberty University)

Michelangelo Signorile went on the prowl at CPAC last weekend, and got some fun revelations from right-wing columnist Cal Thomas. I hadn't checked in with Cal in a while, but he seems even crazier than he was thirty years ago. Here's a sample:

“If you read the Scriptures, as I do, in both testaments all of these things are forecast in prophesies, in the book of Daniel and what Jesus and Paul said, so I'm not worried about it,” Thomas continued, describing his surprising reaction to the Supreme Court possibly ruling in favor of marriage equality. “I say everything is right on schedule. I’m trying to shore up my own family first and, hopefully, that will be an example to other people… If you look at not only what Jesus said, but Paul the Apostle, about what things would be like in the end times, people will be lovers of lies rather than the truth. They will elevate things that are called abomination in scripture to normality… All of the prophesies up to the final ones have come true. And that’s why I say that everything is right on schedule.”

Pat Robertson tells how to cast out your own demons

A demon tricked me into blogging this.

Demonic raisins, I rebuke thee!

For another approach, see Georgina and Esther below.

March 02, 2015

David Benham's baseball cure (for the thing that makes Jesus puke)

Blaze_benham_140513e-800x430
(Photo of David Benham - screenshot from The Blaze)

Anti-gay crusader David Benham testifies:

We had so many people from the gay community reaching out to us and one man in particular from the city of Chicago reached out -- and he said things to me that made me lose my appetite. But I simply responded in love.

After a little conversation back and forth, I found out he loved baseball... and I got him tickets to a Cubs game. He shot me a Facebook post and said, 'I was not expecting that -- and I've been thinking a lot about this. I've chosen to walk away from my lifestyle'... What God needs most is a simple voice for truth.

OMG, I am sorely beset by homosexual demons. Quick, someone send me season tickets to the Nats to drive them out! I promise not to stare at the players' butts!

(Hat tip: John M. Becker at Bilerico)

February 27, 2015

Rights groups thank Reid, Pelosi for opposing use of religion to discriminate

Today, 77 rights organizations sent a letter to Democratic Leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to thank them for opposing the use of religion to discriminate. GLAA is proud to be among them. The letter was coordinated by the Inter-Coalition Religious Refusals Working Group of the National Women’s Law Center. The text is as follows:

Dear Minority Leader Pelosi and Minority Leader Reid:

The undersigned organizations have come together to thank you for your strong stand protecting people from those who would misuse religion to harm others. Your continued leadership is critical to stopping any new legislative initiatives in this area in the 114th Congress. In fact, Congress has begun to consider these issues already, with a House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee for the Constitution and Civil Justice Hearing on “Oversight of the Religious Freedom Restoration Action and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act” on February 13, 2015.

The groups that have signed onto this letter include those working on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities; women; communities of color; youth; reproductive health; individuals facing issues around aging and end of life concerns; health care; people of faith and religious communities; secular beliefs; religious liberty; civil rights; labor; those affected by domestic violence; those living with HIV/AIDS; and a variety of other issues. Together, we represent many millions of Americans across this country.

Our nation’s laws have long protected the freedom of religion and belief – but not the right to impose those beliefs on others. The American people agree; 83 percent of adults believe that “people are entitled to their religious beliefs, but this does not give them the right to harm other people.”

The 77 organizations that have signed this letter, despite our different missions, hold in common the core principle that religion should not be used to discriminate. We thank you for doing the same. We, and the many millions of people we represent, stand with you in opposing any efforts to pass legislation that would allow religion to be misused in this way.

February 26, 2015

Hate pastor James David Manning protests too much

Harlem-based anti-gay loon James David Manning, who claims to be a Christian pastor but displays not the slightest comprehension of the teachings of Christ, is even more unhinged than usual in the above clip.

Manning's obsession with homosexuality may be explained by the video below from the David Pakman Show. At about 12:20, Manning says that in his twenties in prison he was tempted to have sexual intercourse with a sodomite. This is right after he insists that Starbucks puts gay semen in its coffee. (I'm not kidding.)

This, I submit to you, is another example of Rosendall's Law, which states:

Whenever any person displays vehement and obsessive hostility toward gay rights, it shall be a rebuttable presumption that he or she has unresolved personal issues such as repressed homosexuality, an estranged gay spouse, or a gay child.

February 19, 2015

Gay Catholic group attends Ash Wednesday papal audience

Francis DeBernardo at New Ways Ministry writes:

In what is surely the most official welcome from Church officials that New Ways Ministry has received in its 38-year history, and one of the warmest welcomes the LGBT community has received, a pilgrimage group of 48 LGBT Catholics and supporters led by our co-founder, Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, received VIP seating at the papal audience in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, on Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015....

Two weeks before departure on February 12th, [Gramick] received a letter from Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Prefect of the Papal Household, letting her know that he had reserved tickets for the group for the Ash Wednesday audience. She assumed that these were the general seating tickets. On the night of February 17th, when the group picked up the tickets at St. Peter’s, they learned that they were VIP seating.

It was not a private meeting, which is hard to get, but it was a gracious gesture. I note that Archbishop Ganswein is the Vatican heartthrob who became known as "Bel Georgio" when he attended Pope Benedict XVI.

I am glad for Sister Jeannine and her colleagues. What will really be telling is whether they are invited to participate in the next synod, at which a substantive discussion can occur. The Church's doctrine on gay people is wrong and harmful. We are not a threat to anyone's family. We ourselves are family. The pope's considerable pastoral gifts notwithstanding, there is no sign that he wants or intends to change this policy. Without some sign of doctrinal reform, his embraces and compassionate words are like an animal shelter volunteer petting a dog as it is being euthanized. I appreciate the compassion, but what I am looking for are understanding and affirmation. If the prime seating at a papal audience is a sign of greater welcome ahead, it will be more significant.

February 12, 2015

Getting Off Our High Horse

Barack_Obama_insert_via_YouTube

My latest column, now online at the Washington Blade, looks at the controversy over President Obama's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. Here's an excerpt:

At its best, faith challenges us to reflect on how far our actions have strayed from the standards we profess. The Christian Right, by contrast, uses faith as a weapon against its political opponents. Its standard bearers cannot acknowledge crimes even nine centuries in the past. So forget the anti-Semitic Rhineland Massacres of 1096; the sack of Constantinople in 1204; the destruction of ancient libraries and art treasures; the hundreds of thousands who died from slaughter, famine, and disease before the Crusaders even reached the Holy Land. Do not mention the estimated 1.7 million deaths from the Crusades, or that the savagery was launched by Pope Urban II in 1095.

The denial is not only about the Middle Ages. Millions were caught up in the Middle Passage that brought slaves to the western hemisphere, and black men in America were being burned alive in public lynching festivals well into the twentieth century. People cut off parts of the victims for souvenirs. Innumerable photos of these horrors are a few clicks away.

We can talk about this. At bottom, that is the president's message. He does our country a service by raising it, though he knows his opponents are waiting to pounce on whatever he says. He can speak less guardedly with his last race and last midterm election behind him.

Read the whole thing.

February 06, 2015

President Obama brilliantly trolls the National Prayer Breakfast

President Obama makes an admirable statement on the misuse of religion, informed by history and not just recent events. And the haters go crazy. Bravo, Mr. President.

Here are a few news items and comments:

February 04, 2015

Gay man condemned by ISIS is stoned to death after surviving fall

February 03, 2015

'Death With Dignity' bill likely to get slow walk through D.C. Council

Yvette_Alexander
(Photo by Matt McClain for The Washington Post)

Mike DeBonis at WaPo reports on the Death with Dignity Act, introduced by Ward 3 CM Mary Cheh and endorsed by GLAA.

I am quoted in the article, which also links to GLAA's 2015 policy brief. Councilmember Yvette Alexander, to whose Health committee the bill was assigned, said her Catholic faith, which she cited in opposing marriage equality, will not influence her handling of this bill. That remains to be demonstrated.

January 30, 2015

AFA tries to have it both ways with Bryan Fischer

Bryan-fischer-gay-rights

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

David_lane_a

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

Bible_on_an_American_flag_insert_by_Bigstock

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

Salt_Lake_Temple
(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

ISIS_goes_medieval_on_gays

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?

Vatican_gay_art_Daily_Beast
(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

Cartoon_150114_insert_c_Washington_Blade_by_Ranslem
(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.