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Archive for the ‘religious right’ Category

In case you missed it, check out this clip of Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern’s tirade against gays.

Kern has refused to apologize and maintains that she is not a gay-basher. She reportedly received a standing ovation from fellow Oklahoma Republican lawmakers in a closed meeting on Monday for her remarks.

Another notable contribution of Rep. Kern was her sponsorship of HB 2200, which would prohibit public schools from penalizing students whose religious beliefs are in conflict with scientific theory. An identical bill, HB 2211, passed the OK House Education Committee last week. Jamelle has more at US of Jamerica.

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Speaking about same sex unions at a campaign stop in Appalachia today, Obama said:

I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state. If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.

Although Obama doesn’t think gay unions deserve the word marriage, I think his rhetoric on behalf of gay equality is very compelling.  It’s not just that fact that he’s using religiously-based, but easily translatable moral imperatives to counter religious homophobia, but that he’s speaking on behalf of gay equality to largely hostile crowds.  Even if Obama doesn’t deliver on his rhetoric, it is very promising that we have a major Presidential contender speaking this compellingly and unabashedly about gay equality.

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South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu harshly criticized homophobia in the Anglican Church. From BBC:

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, he said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had failed to demonstrate that God is “welcoming”.

He also repeated accusations that the Church was “obsessed” with the issue of gay priests…

Archbishop Tutu referred to the debate about whether Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, could serve as the bishop of New Hampshire.

He said the Anglican Church had seemed “extraordinarily homophobic” in its handling of the issue, and that he had felt “saddened” and “ashamed” of his church at the time.

Asked if he still felt ashamed, he said: “If we are going to not welcome or invite people because of sexual orientation, yes.

“If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God.”

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The Reverend Ken Hutcherson, former Dallas Cowboys linebacker and minister at the Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Washington is threatening Microsoft (again) for its support of anti-discrimination legislation in Washington State. Hutcherson had threatened a boycott on Microsoft in 2005, causing the corporation to briefly suspend its support for the legislation (it later renewed support after protests from gay employees). From the Daily Telegraph:

An advocate of a “biblical stance” against divorce and homosexuality, Mr Hutcherson, 55, is asking millions of evangelical activists, as well as Orthodox Jewish and other allies, to buy up Microsoft shares and demand a return to traditional values.

Microsoft, he declares, will be just the first company targeted in an escalation of the culture wars between evangelicals and corporate America.

“There are 256 Fortune 500 companies alone pouring millions upon millions of dollars into pushing the homosexual agenda,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“I consider myself a warrior for Christ. Microsoft don’t scare me. I got God with me.

“I told them that you need to work with me or we will put a firestorm on you like you have never seen in you life because I am your worst nightmare. I am a black man with a righteous cause with a whole host of powerful white people behind me.”

I really can’t imagine one of the most successful corporations ever being run on “biblical” principals–just doesn’t jive well with the profit factor.

 

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From IHT:

Norway’s state Lutheran church on Friday lifted an outright ban on allowing those living in homosexual partnerships to serve in the clergy, but will leave it up to each bishop to make individual decisions on whether to employ them.

The compromise decision reflected the realization that the church may have to live with a deep split over the issue…

The decision means that six of Norway’s 11 bishops are likely to open the pulpit to gay clergy in partnerships. In a vote earlier in the year, those six bishops voted in favor of easing the ban.

The church already allows gays to serve in the clergy as long as they are not living in a homosexual partnership.

A promising step. Gay equality will never fully be achieved without movements like this from within the religious establishment. Organized religion has always been one of, if not the biggest obstacle to the societal recognition that gay individuals deserve the basic respect and dignity afforded to straight individuals.  Since religion has relatively large influence in governments throughout the world (in varying degrees), I believe the biggest push for gay equality will come from within the church.

In the US, Christianity was a driving factor behind both the abolitionist and Civil Rights movements. Now we’re beginning to reach an important juncture in the current movement for gay equality. Among all of the other societal questions being raised with regard to homosexuality,  Christians will have to reconcile with an inherent tension within the faith: Jesus’ call for love and charity on top of scriptural condemnation of homosexual activity.  I find it promising that more churches such as the Lutheran Church of Norway, and many episcopalian dioceses in the Northeast US, are beginning to reconcile the two in a way that supports the equal recognition and treatment of gay individuals.

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Jamelle weights in on the “Not Gay” column. I concur with his conclusion that Cortes is:

1) an idiot.

2) a first-year taking a 100-level philosophy class who got his terms mixed up.

Queerty also weights in, making the point that the need to reaffirm one’s one heterosexuality, is “the gayest thing we’ve ever heard.” In this regard, Cortes does sound strikingly similar to a certain Senator from Idaho…

There were also several good response letters published in the Cavalier Daily.

While I recognize that I am helping to draw attention to this whole matter, I find it annoying that Cortes is getting so much attention for his poorly thought out rant. It’s only helping him cultivate his image as a martyr, which is what he was trying to do with the original column.

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Homophobia is Immoral

Yet again, the Cavalier Daily, my university’s daily student paper, ran an ill informed column on homosexuality.  My response is as follows:

I found Mr. Cortes’s attempt to paint himself the victim of intolerance pathetic and laughable. I’m sure the “stares and criticisms” Mr. Cortes had to endure for singing the Not Gay Chant were no doubt unpleasant; as no one likes to be condemned by their peers. However, it should go without saying, that gays have had to put up with far worse—family disownment, bullying, and violence to name a few—as a result of the intolerance supported by individuals like Mr. Cortes and other religious conservatives who share his ideology.

Mr. Cortes’ equating courage with a tasteless taunt indicates severe moral weakness in his argument. Since when is it considered brave (not to mention Christian) to bully an already bullied minority? In what sense is it moral to degrade and trample on the dignity of other individuals? As a society devoted to freedom and equality we must reject Mr. Cortes’ “Christian” notions of bravery and morality. I believe real courage is displayed everyday by openly gay individuals who strive to live their lives with dignity in spite of all of the individuals, groups, traditions, and laws that are aimed at branding them as lesser beings and second class citizens.

Mr. Cortes throws out a straw man in claiming that the Not Gay Chant is not so bad compared to Ahmadinejad’s Iran. Of course that is true; we do live in a democratic society ostensibly devoted to religious freedom, not a third world theocratic state. But this misses the greater point. While Cortes’ method of dealing with gays is by far less severe than the methods of particular Islamic states, the general ideology is the same. Homophobia is homophobia. Any time one’s beliefs, religiously based or otherwise, are based in shaming and degrading homosexuality, one is harming homosexual individuals.

In the United States this means that 33% of gay teens will attempt suicide (Center for Disease Control/Massachusetts Department of Education Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 1999). More gays will be victims of crimes that are based on the perpetrator’s disapproval of homosexuality. The FBI reported that 1,213 gay men and women were victims of hate related crimes in 2005 alone. So no, Mr. Cortez cannot wash his hands of the deadly effects of homophobia in the US by merely contrasting himself to Ahmadinejad. One point of comparison between the two should be emphasized however: both individuals base their anti-gay beliefs in their religion.

Now to address Mr. Cortes’ point on the “suppression” of religious views in the public square. The problem with expressing explicitly religious based arguments in the public square is that not everyone shares the same worldview. In America Mr. Cortes is free to express his Biblically based beliefs against homosexuality all he wants. This does not guarantee him the right to be praised for those beliefs. That’s the beauty of free speech—it helps to create a free market of ideas and allows individuals to critically assess the validity of their beliefs.

In contrast to Mr. Cortes, I believe that homophobia, not homosexuality, is immoral. It degrades individuals and destroys families with gay members. It creates such despair in many gay people that they decide to take their own lives. It creates a situation where violence against gays is condoned and even supported. I urge others to reject Mr. Cortez’s narrow view of morality which supports the degradation of gay individuals and support the dignity of their gay peers by refusing to sing the Not Gay Chant.

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