|Finding Jesus in Drag
Jan 23, 2011
Cathleen Falsani (aka God Girl) caused quite a stir here at HuffPost
when she cited my new book "Fall to Grace" as evidence of a potential
"great gay awakening" in the evangelical church.
The response was heated: 1,400 posts (and counting) filled with
everything from enthusiastic support, to reasoned dissent, to
emoticon-happy vitriol. Things got so unruly at Cathleen's own website
that she shut down the comments thread and posted an instructional video
on how to administer hugs.
This column isn't the space for a blow-by-blow account of the
biblical passages on homosexuality. (For that, you'll have to check out
my book. Nudge, nudge.) Instead, I'd like to challenge readers with a
story about my own struggle to overcome the fear of judgment and live
During a trip to California a few years back, my then-wife Amanda and
I were invited out to a drag show by RuPaul, the famous drag queen
(recording artist, supermodel, VH1 talk-show host, etc.) who did the
voice-over for the 2000 documentary about my mom, The Eyes of Tammy
The invitation came at a delicate moment in my own spiritual
evolution. I was working my way toward becoming a gay-affirming pastor
-- someone who welcomes gay people into the church without asking them
to compromise their love or lifestyle -- but I hadn't yet declared this
position publicly. Frankly, I was really nervous about how the Christian
magazines and festival organizers and even some of my Christian friends
would react if they knew I'd been to a drag show.
I came up with lots of excuses not to accept the invitation: I told
myself that I was trying to gradually bring conservative Christians
around to a more loving and understanding attitude toward our LGBT
(lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) brothers and sisters in
Christ. And I thought that meant not reinforcing stereotypes or
inflaming fears about the gay community -- and you don't get more
flaming than a RuPaul drag show!
In the end, I decided to overcome my fears and go. (When the queen of
drag queens invites you to a drag show, you really don't have a choice.)
Thank God I did.
When we arrived at the club, RuPaul said hello and ushered us in past
the crowd thronging outside. There were about ten of us in the VIP area.
It was a very hip group including risqué celebrities like Dita Von
Teese, the famous burlesque dancer who was married to the singer Marilyn
Manson. The first half of the show passed without incident. Then, during
intermission, I stepped outside to have a cigarette. While I was
standing there, one of the drag queens -- a seven-foot tall black man in
heels who was wearing a massive replica of the Eiffel Tower on his head
-- approached to say that he was a preacher's kid too and that he had
grown up in the church. He went on to explain how much he loved my mom
and how worried he was about her cancer.
"Please tell your mom that I'm praying for her and that I love her,"
he said, Eiffel Tower bobbing as he spoke.
"Well, let's get a picture together so I can show my mom who you
are," I said, letting my guard down a little and taking a photo with
him. Stubbing out my cigarette, I went back inside for the second half
of the show.
Near the end of the show, a drag queen got up onstage and began
spotlighting the famous people in the crowd: "Dita Von Teese is here!"
(cheers). "And RuPaul is here!" (cheers). And all of a sudden he said,
"Did anyone here ever watch the Praise the Lord ministry?"
I thought, Oh, no, here it comes. But half the crowd raised their
hands and cheered (and chuckled). I think they were expecting someone to
come out and impersonate my mom or something. "Well, Jim and Tammy's
son, Jamie, is here," the emcee said. And suddenly, this huge spotlight
As I blinked into the blinding light, the emcee asked teasingly, "Are
"Yeah," I said, blushing and pointing a thumb at my wife, Amanda.
"Lucky girl," the emcee said.
And then the emcee got real serious. Standing there in high heels and
a sparkly dress, he said: "You know, this is where Jesus would be if He
were alive today. Jesus hung out with the tax collectors and the
prostitutes and the sinners ... " He then launched into a three-minute
speech about how Jesus loved everybody without judgment.
Then he looked back up at me and asked, "Jay, are you still doing
"Yeah," I answered.
"Oh, that's so wonderful. Best of luck to you on that." And everybody
So there I was, stunned, not knowing what to make of this. One minute
a drag queen was making cracks about whether I'm gay, and the next
minute he was saying these really amazing things about Jesus and grace.
I looked over at Amanda, not knowing what to expect, and she had tears
in her eyes.
"This is incredible, Jay," she said. "In a roomful of people, where
you don't know who believes what, they're talking about Jesus. They're
talking about His love and grace and how much they appreciate the fact
that you, as a preacher, are here with them, that you're willing to come
out to the show and share this with them ... This is where we're
supposed to be," she said. "This is where God has sent us."
I realized she was right.
That night, at a burlesque club in Los Angeles, I saw people hungry
for the love and truth of Christ. Not the judgment and rejection they'd
experienced their whole lives in the church, but the real deal:
revolutionary grace. That's what they welcomed into their midst.
That's what grace is all about: loving one another and understanding
one another and sharing in Christ together, no matter who we are or what
others might think about it.
Being at that drag show in L.A. challenged me to get outside my
comfort zone. It taught me that grace crops up where you least expect
it. It helped me to recognize that there can be no boundaries on God's
I want to challenge everyone reading this to push yourself in this
same way. What are the boundaries you put on grace? Are there places you
won't go or people you won't socialize with for fear of judgment? Ask
yourself: What are the rules I make up about who gets to sit at Christ's
table? Then ask yourself: Are my rules consistent with grace?
Jay Bakker is the son of Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Messner, the
co-pastor of Revolution Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the author
of the new book "Fall to Grace: A Revolution of God, Self, and Society",
from which this piece is adapted.
The Christian Century
Scott D Anderson
Jan 24, 2011
Just as loving mercy is a means to doing justice, so is walking
humbly with God. Yet in the sexuality debates raging in the mainline
church, humility is seldom easy to find. Both sides cling to the
fiction that they harbor gospel truth.
In 2001 I was appointed to the Presbyterian Church (USA) national
task force charged with helping the denomination find a new way
forward out of three decades of ecclesiastical warfare. This group,
comprised of 20 individuals chosen for their theological diversity,
was given five years to do its work. I was the only openly gay
person around the table.
We came to a startling and unanimous conclusion: the conflicted
camps each hold views that are biblical and faithful, even though
they reach diametrically opposite conclusions. We confessed that we
live in an age of paradox and ambiguity in regard to issues of
ordination and same-gender relationships, and that we need to make
room in our polity for these views to co-exist. Interestingly, the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) reached the same
conclusion three years later.
It took lots of time, energy, commitment and courage for the
members of our task force to leave the self-assuredness of our
well-honed positions and acknowledge a measure of faithfulness in
the views of those with whom we disagree. Such humility is a rare
commodity these days, particularly when it comes to hot-button
issues like sex.
Walking humbly can be a means to justice. By acknowledging that
our views are a partial expression of gospel truth--as are
the views of those who disagree with us--we make room for the other
in our midst. That was my experience with 19 diverse Presbyterians.
Now I long for the whole church to discover this as well.
|Jan 23, 2011
Gay MP? 'Her
private life is her private life'
But society is not ready for
such openness in Parliament: MM Lee
By Elgin Toh
|Social mores at one time kept single
women out of Parliament. The likes of
Ms Penny Low and Ms
both sitting MPs and unmarried, prove that frontier has been breached.
Might gay people one day follow in their footsteps?
Lee Kuan Yew has
revealed that he has no problems with having homosexuals in Parliament.
The surprising comment came in an interview in which Mr Lee makes his
most comprehensive statement on homosexuality to date. It was published
in a new book about his beliefs, Hard Truths To Keep
Singapore Going. It
is available at bookstores with DVD for $39.90.
Asked about the
possibility of gay MPs, he said: 'As far as I'm concerned, if she does
her work as an MP, she looks after her constituents, she makes sensible
speeches, she's making a contribution, her private life is her life,
Mr Lee, however, made it clear that his personal view
did not automatically become the policy of the ruling
People's Action Party
(PAP), which he no longer leads, saying later in the same interview:
'I'm not the prime minister, I told you that before I started. If I were
the prime minister I would hesitate to push it through against the
prevailing sentiment, against the prevailing values of society.
'You're going against the current of the people, the underlying feeling.
What's the point of that, you know, breaking new ground and taking
He said he believed it had been scientifically
proven that homosexuals were genetically different from heterosexuals.
'They are born that way and that's that.'
Asked what he would do if
he had a grandchild who was gay, he cited the example of former United
States vice-president Dick Cheney, who was against homosexuality but
whose daughter is gay.
'He says, 'I still love her, full-stop','
noted Mr Lee. 'Do you throw the daughter out? That's life. I mean none
of my children is gay, but if they were, well, that's that.'
more ambiguous about whether same-sex marriages should be allowed or if
gays should be given rights of adoption, noting that 'complications'
would arise. 'Who is going to bring them up?' he asked.
looking after a child? Two women looking after a child, maybe. But I'm
not so sure because it's not their own child. Unless you have
and it's their own child, then you have a certain maternal instinct
immediately aroused by the process of pregnancy.'
Calling his view
the 'purely practical view', he said 'we cross the bridge when we come
to it', adding: 'We haven't come to that bridge yet. The people are not
ready for it. In fact, some ministers are not ready for it.'
Political watchers and MPs said Mr Lee's views were more liberal than
those of mainstream society, and they did not expect the PAP Government
to change its basic stance.
'They'll still be wary about fielding
someone who is known to be gay at the next election, because they won't
want the election to be sidetracked by the sexual orientation of a
candidate,' said Mr Eugene Tan, law lecturer at
'But MM is painting the larger picture of how what
is acceptable is something that would change and evolve with time.'
Said Mr Charles Chong, an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC: 'PAP candidates
have never been asked to declare our sexual orientation. MM is right in
saying an MP should be judged purely on his performance, and not on his
Members of the gay community here welcomed some
of Mr Lee's remarks.
'Some of what he said was heartening, but I wish
he would have extended it to say that decriminal-ising 377A, legalising
same-sex marriage and adoption would therefore make sense,' said
communications executive Charmaine Tan, 35, referring to
Section 377A of the Penal
Code, which makes sex between two men an offence.
Ms Irene Oh,
27, and Ms Olivia Tan, 30, would both like to raise children. One way is
to get pregnant through assisted reproduction, such as artificial
insemination or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
'We know some couples
who get it done overseas, but that's very expensive,' said Ms Oh, a
software developer and administrator of lesbian website
They are also open to adopting children. While welcoming Mr Lee's
comments, they disagreed that
adopting a child
lessened the maternal
Said Ms Oh: 'If MM Lee is right, then even heterosexual
couples should not be allowed to adopt, because they, too, have no
biological connection with the child. I think adoption is a great act of
love, and there is no reason to expect adoptive parents to be any less
|24 Sept 2010
Lawyer challenges gay
|SINGAPORE - An application has been
filed in the High Court to challenge the legality of Section 377A of the
Penal Code, which criminalises gay sex.
A hearing will be fixed
for the Court to rule whether the law should be deemed unconstitutional
if the act is between consenting adults.
Lawyer M Ravi filed the
legal action on Friday on behalf of his client Tan Eng Hong, who was
charged for allegedly having oral sex with another consenting male.
In his eight-page application, Mr Ravi said, "The continuance of
Section 377A on the statute book operates to brutalise a vulnerable
minority segment of the citizenry for no fault on its point. A section
of society has been thus criminalised and stigmatised to a point where
individuals are forced to deny the core of their identity and vital
dimensions of their personality."
His client is due to attend a
pre-trial conference on Monday morning in the Subordinate Courts. With
the application, though, Mr Ravi is also seeking for the higher court to
"void" the charge brought against Mr Tan. LEONG WEE KEAT
|Aug 17, 2010
Gay couples have equal
|Aug 17, 2010
Gay couples have equal
BERLIN - GAY couples in
Germany who have
formally registered their partnerships must have equal inheritance
rights to married couples, the country's top court said on Tuesday.
Germany introduced 'registered partnerships' for same-sex couples in
2001 but stopped short of granting them the full rights and privileges
afforded to married couples.
The ruling by the
Court found that
inheritance tax law as it stood between 2001 and 2008, when the
legislation was reformed, put gay registered partners at a marked
'While married couples were put in the most
advantageous tax group I and regardless of the amount inherited had to
pay between seven and 30 percent tax,
life partners, as
'other beneficiaries' in tax group III, had to pay between 17 and 50
percent tax,' the court said in a statement.
Married couples also
had a far higher tax exempt sum than gay partners.
legislation in December 2008 helped close the gap and the government put
forward a draft bill in June offering full equality with married couples
in inheritance taxes,
the court noted. The court set a deadline of Dec 31, 2010 for the
parliament to produce new legislation to rectify the 'unconstitutional'
disadvantage for gay partners in the years 2001 to 2008. -- AFP
|Aug 17, 2010
Gay adoption legal in
|Aug 17, 2010
Gay adoption legal in
MEXICO CITY - MEXICO'S
Supreme Court upheld on Monday a
Mexico City law
allowing married same-sex couples to adopt children in its second
landmark gay rights decision this month.
The court on Aug 5 threw
out a challenge led by the federal government to the part of the law
approving gay marriage, but only ruled on Monday - after more than a
week of deliberations - on the legislation's more controversial adoption
City's left-leaning Mayor
Marcelo Ebrard, expected to seek the presidency in 2012, pushed
through the legislation this year, making Mexico City the first Latin
American capital to extend to same-sex couples the same marriage and
adoption rights as heterosexuals.
Mexico's ruling conservative
National Action Party and the
strongly opposed both provisions, arguing they would be destructive to
'Given that the interests of the child must
come first, the proposed reform is constitutional,' said
Supreme Court Justice
Arturo Zaldivar. Nine of the court's 11 judges voted to uphold the law.
Activists see the legislation as part of a sea change in attitudes
on homosexuality in much of traditionally conservative Latin America.
the first Latin American country to allow
gay marriages and
adoptions last month when the country's
|Aug 5, 2010
Gay marriage ban
|Aug 5, 2010
Gay marriage ban
LOS ANGELES - A FEDERAL judge overturned California's
ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, the latest dramatic twist in a
legal saga that could have nationwide implications for the divisive
In a written opinion, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in
favor of rights activists who argued that a November 2008 referendum
which barred gays and lesbians from tying the knot was discriminatory
and therefore violated the US Constitution. The referendum, known as
Proposition 8, was passed by a 52 per cent majority only six months
after California's Supreme Court overturned a previous ban on same-sex
weddings triggering a flood of same-sex marriages.
Judge Walker wrote in a ruling that Proposition 8 failed to 'advance any
rational basis' to deny gay men and lesbians a marriage license. 'Indeed
the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the
California constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are
superior to same sex couples,' Judge Walker wrote.
California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and
lesbians and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling
its constitutional obligations to provide marriages on an equal basis,
the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.' Opponents
of same-sex marriage had already signalled they would appeal Walker's
decision if it went against them.
Judge Walker later issued a
ruling granting a temporary stay of his order until Friday, allowing
opponents of same-sex marriage time to file appeals and appearing to bar
an immediate resumption of weddings between gays and lesbians in the
most populous US state. Gay rights activists meanwhile praised the
decision but warned they were ready for further legal battles ahead,
with analysts predicting it could be years before the last of the
inevitable appeals are heard.
'There are more legal challenges,
debates and votes to come,' said Lorri Jean, chief executive officer of
the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. -- AFP
31 july 10
BUENOS AIRES (Argentina) - AN ARCHITECT and a retired office worker
are the first couple to wed under Argentina's historic law legalizing
same-sex marriage. Jose Luis Navarro and Miguel Angel Calefato said 'I
do' on Friday morning in the city of Frias,
Santiago del Estero
Province, shortly after the law took effect.
They have been
partners for 27 years.
Another pair wed a few hours later in
Buenos Aires, and
at least three more couples are scheduled to marry over the weekend.
Argentina is the first Latin American nation to legalize same-sex
marriage. President Cristina Fernandez signed the bill into law July 21.
|Jun 28, 2010
Iceland PM weds gay
|Jun 28, 2010
Iceland PM weds gay
REYKJAVIK (Iceland) - ICELAND'S
prime minister has
married her partner under a new law legalising same-sex marriage in the
One of her advisers, Hrannar B. Arnarsson, said on
Monday Prime Minister
Johanna Sigurdardottir and writer Jonina Leosdottir were
officially married on Sunday, the day the law came into force.
The pair has been in a registered partnership since 2002 and had applied
to have it converted into a marriage under the new law.
ceremony was held.
The law was passed without a dissenting vote
in Iceland's parliament June 11.
Sigurdardottir, 68, became Iceland's prime minister last year, after the
previous centre-right government was ousted by a wave of protest
triggered by the country's economic crisis. -- AP
|Jun 10, 2010
crowned at prom
Jun 10, 2010
Gay friends crowned at prom
HUDSON - A
PAIR of gay best
friends were voted prom
king and queen
by such a wide margin at an upstate New York high school that the
school didn't bother choosing runners-up.
Ferrusi and Timmy Howard won their respective crown and tiara by a
landslide on Saturday. They started thinking about running about a
month ago and ran the idea past advisers and the principal, who gave
The boys say one of the hardest parts of the
experience was deciding who would be king and who would be queen.
In recent years, Hudson has developed a sizable
including some residents who have opened antique shops and galleries
and have restored many of the city's historic homes. The city of
about 7,000 sits on the shore of the
Hudson River south
of Albany. -- AP
Christian groups bring different messages to Pride event
Oct 31, 2009
The battle for Jesus played itself out Saturday as it does every year during Atlanta's largest event for gay people.
Outside the gates of Piedmont Park, where much of the Atlanta Pride Festival takes place, a handful of conservative Christians carried Bibles and signs, warning arriving gays of impending eternal doom unless they change.
For the past two years, local churches who affirm gays have mounted a counteroffensive. Their members stand near the conservatives, holding signs saying that God accepts gays just as they are. "We are letting people know that there is an alternative message," said Lisa Costen of Atlanta.
She attends Trinity United Methodist Church, which affirms gays though the United Methodist denomination has not taken that step.
The battling groups reflect much of what is happening inside American Christianity, as churches grapple with how to treat gay members. Some reject them. Some welcome them with open arms. Others are trying to find a balance.
Inside the park, local churches, from a born-again, charismatic gay congregation to mainline churches, such as the Episcopal Church, have taken vendors' booths and invite gays in without demanding they change.
This year, two evangelical ministers who are walking a middle path between outright condemnation and full affirmation of gay people took a booth and surprised those stopping by with apologies."I just want to say I'm sorry," Jason Harper, an assistant pastor from Sacramento, Calif., told a man as he handed him a white rubber bracelet with "We're Sorry" indented into it.Harper continued, he is sorry for the way many churches have treated gay people, making them feel like outcasts. The man paused, looked Harper in the eye and thanked him before disappearing.Harper and Craig Gross wrote a book, "No Matter Who You Are or What You've Done, Jesus Loves You, This I Know" (Baker Books $17.99), about their experiences with prisoners, porn stars, Las Vegas strip down-and-outers and other strangers to church. They attended Atlanta Pride as part of the book tour.
They don't condemn gay people, but they won't affirm a gay relationship as an ideal union. That typically does not come up in their brief apologies.Renee Randall, a gay Georgia State University student, smiled and chatted with Harper and Gross after an apology."I think it's a message that people need to know," she said after leaving the booth."It gets really old hearing all that other stuff," she said, nodding toward the gates where the conservative Christians stood in the misting rain with their signs.Others coming by were not as receptive to Harper and Gross' message. One woman took a bracelet, and as she walked away, her female partner chided her, used an expletive and called her a "traitor."Bill Adams, a conservative Christian from Atlanta had a similar attitude toward Harper and Gross, but for a different reason. Adams comes yearly to try to talk to attendees outside the gates about his views of the Bible. You can't be a practicing homosexual and a Christian, he said. He believes people need to hear the unvarnished truth of the Bible, preached just as Jesus and his early followers preached it, he said."It is a dangerous and confusing thing [Harper and Gross] are doing," he said.The variety of religious opinion on display within a 200-yard walk was as varied as the crowd's couture. Some dressed as if they had come from work. Others were in full Halloween costume.Costen, holding her welcoming sign outside the 10th Street park gate, seemed to sum it all up.
"Not all Christians are the same," she said.
|09 Sep 2009
||Thio Li-Ann and Singa News
Aug 16, 2009
PM'S NATIONAL DAY RALLY SPEECH
'Live and let live'
By Irene Ngoo
ALL religious groups in multiracial Singapore must exercise tolerance and restraint and adopt 'live and let live' as a guiding principle.Making this call in his National Day Rally speech on Sunday night at the University Cultural Centre, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged Singaporeans against taking racial and religious harmony for granted, stressing that some basic requirement must be observed to keep the nation peaceful and harmonious.He dwelt at length on the importance of maintaining social cohesion, especially racial and religious harmony.Mr Lee highlighted race and religion as the 'most visceral and dangerous fault line', compared to the potential divide between the rich and poor, and between Singaporeans and new-arrivals.Acknowledging that religion is a sensitive subject and people shy away from discussing it, Mr Lee said from time to time, it must be raised for discussion - 'sensitively and honestly, to assess progress, recognise trends, and remind ourselves where we must do better.'PM Lee spelt out four basic rules to maintain social cohesion in Singapore. First, he urged all groups to exercise tolerance and restraint.Elaborating, he said Christians cannot expect Singapore to be a Christian society, ditto Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other groups.'Many faiths share this island. Each has different teachings and practices,' he told the gathering of over 1,600, who include politicians, grassroots and religious leaders, trade unionists and captains of industries. 'Rules which apply only to one group cannot be made into laws that apply to everyone.'For example, Muslims do not drink alcohol, but alcohol is not banned. The same goes for gambling, which several religions disapprove of.'All must adopt 'live and let live' as our guiding principle,' said Mr Lee.Secondly, he said religions must stay separate from politics.Unlike countries with predominantly one faith, he said religion cannot play the same role in Singapore politics.'In Singapore, if one group invokes religion in the political arena, for example, mobilises its supporters to campaign for a party or policy, other religious groups will push back, and also invoke their faith,' said the PM.'If one insists he is doing his God's work, and the other says he is doing his God's work, and both take these as absolute imperatives, the result will be a clash between different religious groups, which will tear us apart.'Thirdly, he said the Government must remain secular, and the laws are not based on divine authority, but enacted by Parliament based on public interest.Besides being neutral and fair, the Government ensures all religions can be practised freely, without infringing on other groups.Mr Lee said religious groups are free to propagate their teachings on social issues and moral questions, pointing to the debates on the integrated resorts, Human Organ Transplant Act and Section 377A, as examples.But they 'should accept that other groups may have different views, informed by different beliefs, which they should respect,' he said.'The public debate - and decision - cannot be between different religious perspectives, but must be based on secular, rational considerations of public interest - what makes sense for Singapore,' said PM Lee.Fourthly, PM Lee said there must be common space for all Singaporeans to share.'This space must be secular and neutral, because it is the only way all groups can feel at ease and share it,' he said, giving as examples, Singaporeans sharing meals together, interaction in schools and the workplace.Summing up the four ground rules, Mr Lee said: 'Whatever other countries do, these basic rules must apply in Singapore.'The basis for this is practical reality of our society, not abstract political theory or divine revelation,' he stressed.'This is the only way for all groups in Singapore to live in peace and harmony.'
05 Aug 2009
Psychologists repudiate gay-to-straight therapy
By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer David Crary, Ap National Writer
NEW YORK – The American Psychological Association declared Wednesday that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments.
Instead, the APA urged therapists to consider multiple options — that could range from celibacy to switching churches — for helping clients whose sexual orientation and religious faith conflict.
In a resolution adopted on a 125-to-4 vote by the APA's governing council, and in a comprehensive report based on two years of research, the 150,000-member association put itself firmly on record in opposition of so-called "reparative therapy" which seeks to change sexual orientation.
No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the report, and some research suggests that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.
The APA had criticized reparative therapy in the past, but a six-member task force added weight to this position by examining 83 studies on sexual orientation change conducted since 1960. Its comprehensive report was endorsed by the APA's governing council in Toronto, where the association' s annual meeting is being held this weekend.
The report breaks new ground in its detailed and nuanced assessment of how therapists should deal with gay clients struggling to remain loyal to a religious faith that disapproves of homosexuality.
Judith Glassgold, a Highland Park, N.J., psychologist who chaired the task force, said she hoped the document could help calm the polarized debate between religious conservatives who believe in the possibility of changing sexual orientation and the many mental health professionals who reject that option.
"Both sides have to educate themselves better," Glassgold said in an interview. "The religious psychotherapists have to open up their eyes to the potential positive aspects of being gay or lesbian. Secular therapists have to recognize that some people will choose their faith over their sexuality."
In dealing with gay clients from conservative faiths, says the report, therapists should be "very cautious" about suggesting treatments aimed at altering their same-sex attractions."Practitioners can assist clients through therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development without imposing a specific identity outcome," the report says."We have to challenge people to be creative," said Glassgold.
She suggested that devout clients could focus on overarching aspects of religion such as hope and forgiveness in order to transcend negative beliefs about homosexuality, and either remain part of their original faith within its limits — for example, by embracing celibacy — or find a faith that welcomes gays."There's no evidence to say that change therapies work, but these vulnerable people are tempted to try them, and when they don't work, they feel doubly terrified," Glassgold said. "You should be honest with people and say, 'This is not likely to change your sexual orientation, but we can help explore what options you have.'"One of the largest organizations promoting the possibility of changing sexual orientation is Exodus International, a network of ministries whose core message is "Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ."Its president, Alan Chambers, describes himself as someone who "overcame unwanted same-sex attraction." He and other evangelicals met with APA representatives after the task force formed in 2007, and he expressed satisfaction with parts of the report that emerged."It's a positive step — simply respecting someone's faith is a huge leap in the right direction," Chambers said. "But I'd go further. Don't deny the possibility that someone's feelings might change."An evangelical psychologist, Mark Yarhouse of Regent University, praised the APA report for urging a creative approach to gay clients' religious beliefs but — like Chambers — disagreed with its skepticism about changing sexual orientation.Yarhouse and a colleague, Professor Stanton Jones of Wheaton College, will be releasing findings at the APA meeting Friday from their six-year study of people who went through Exodus programs. More than half of 61 subjects either converted to heterosexuality or "disidentified" with homosexuality while embracing chastity, their study said.To Jones and Yarhouse, their findings prove change is possible for some people, and on average the attempt to change will not be harmful.The APA task force took as a starting point the belief that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality, not a disorder, and that it nonetheless remains stigmatized in ways that can have negative consequences.The report said the subgroup of gays interested in changing their sexual orientation has evolved over the decades and now is comprised mostly of well-educated white men whose religion is an important part of their lives and who participate in conservative faiths that frown on homosexuality.
"Religious faith and psychology do not have to be seen as being opposed to each other," the report says, endorsing approaches "that integrate concepts from the psychology of religion and the modern psychology of sexual orientation. "Perry Halkitis, a New York University psychologist who chairs the APA committee dealing with gay and lesbian issues, praised the report for its balance."Anyone who makes decisions based on good science will be satisfied," he said. "As a clinician, you have to deal with the whole person, and for some people, faith is a very important aspect of who they are."The report also addressed the issue of whether adolescents should be subjected to therapy aimed at altering their sexual orientation. Any such approach should "maximize self-determination" and be undertaken only with the youth's consent, the report said.Wayne Besen, a gay-rights activist who has sought to discredit the so-called "ex-gay" movement, welcomed the APA findings."Ex-gay therapy is a profound travesty that has led to pointless tragedies, and we are pleased that the APA has addressed this psychological scourge," Besen said.
12,000 foetuses aborted in Singapore every year
Channel News Asia
11 July 2009
|SINGAPORE: About 12,000 foetuses are aborted in Singapore every year and doctors say not enough people are using contraception, or are not using them correctly.
Said Dr Beh Suan Tiong, president of the Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore: "Some of them may be using condom incorrectly (and) not infrequently. "Many husbands do not use condom right from the start of the sexual activity, (they) wait till they are near ejaculation before they put it on, and that defeats the purpose." Of the 12,000 births terminated every year, about half are done by married women. While some doctors suggest couples use contraception if they do not want to have babies, many women say they fear the side effects. For example, some inaccurately think that birth control pills may be linked to cancer or weight gain, and others have the misconception that the intrauterine system makes sexual intercourse uncomfortable and carries an infection risk. While this may have had some truth to it with the older copper intrauterine device, the newer hormone-releasing intrauterine system carries less risk. Said Dr Beh: "Every contraception method do carry some potential side effects but they actually rank much less compared to the risk of abortion." Every one in 300 abortions is likely to develop complications such as an injury to the womb or an infection, which can lead to infertility. The negative psychological effects of an abortion are also well documented. Some pro-life groups advocate the use of natural family planning which tracks a woman's ovulation by measuring body temperature and cervical secretions. Experts point out that this method can be effective if it is taught well and carried out correctly.
Govt unlikely to appeal HC's gay order on its own
The Times of India
03 July 2009
|NEW DELHI: Though under pressure from religious groups of all hues to appeal against the Delhi High Court order legalising gay sex, the Manmohan
Singh government is unlikely to move the Supreme Court on its own.
The opinion in the government on the fraught issue is far from settled and the Delhi HC may have spared it the tough task of coalescing divergent views into a position. In fact, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi indicated as much when he said that "the verdict has rendered legislative intervention meaningless. Unless asked for its opinion in response to a petition challenging the HC order, government may prefer not to take a clear cut stand on an issue that has conservative sections of society up in arms. The premium on caution and even ambivalence was evident last week when the government, after intial indications that it was not averse to changes in Section 377, turned increasingly cautious.
Given the strong views on homosexuality, the government may prefer to remain nuetral, not responding until it has to if some religious group challenges the HC order. In that case, government will be forced to take a view and it is difficult to see how it could go against the HC order legitimising gay sex. Its response is likely to offer assurances that it will ensure the verdict is not abused and children are protected. It is unlikely to respond to the suggestion of the HC to change the law.
New York Times
Indian Court Overturns Gay Sex Ban
03 July 2009
|NEW DELHI —In a landmark ruling Thursday that could usher in an era of greater freedom for gay men and lesbians in India, New Delhi’s highest court decriminalized homosexuality. “The inclusiveness that Indian society traditionally displayed, literally in every aspect of life, is manifest in recognizing a role in society for everyone,” judges of the Delhi High Court wrote in a 105-page decision, India’s first to directly address rights for gay men and lesbians. “Those perceived by the majority as ‘deviants’ or ‘different’ are not on that score excluded or ostracized,” the decision said.
Homosexuality has been illegal in India since 1861, when British rulers codified a law prohibiting “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal.” The law, known as Section 377 of India’s penal code, has long been viewed as an archaic holdover from colonialism by its detractors.“Clearly, we are all thrilled,” said Anjali Gopalan, the executive director and founder of the Naz Foundation, an AIDS awareness group that sued to have Section 377 changed.“It is a first major step,” Ms. Gopalan said during a news conference in Delhi, but “there are many more battles.”Thursday’s decision applies only in the territory of India’s capital city, but it is likely to force India’s government either to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, or change the law nationwide, lawyers and advocates said. Outside the hall where the Naz Foundation news conference was held, dozens of young men and women gathered to celebrate, along with a group of hijras, men who dress and act like women who classify themselves as belonging to neither gender. “It is a victory of human rights, not just of gay rights,” said one 22-year-old man who only dentified himself as Manish. Gay men and women have rarely been prosecuted under Section 377 in India in modern times, but it has been used to harass, blackmail and jail people. Britain legalized homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967, but many of its former colonies, including Singapore, Zimbabwe and Malaysia, still retain strict laws against same-sex relations.
Vermont becomes 4th U.S. state to allow gay marriage
07 Apr 2009
BOSTON (Reuters) – Vermont legalized gay marriage on Tuesday after lawmakers overrode a veto from the governor by a wafer-thin margin, making the New England state the fourth in the United States where gays can wed.The vote, nine years after Vermont was first in the United States to adopt a same-sex civil-union law, also makes the tiny state of 624,000 people the first in the nation to introduce gay marriage through legislative action instead of the courts."We've shown that truth and fairness and justice and love are more powerful than one man's veto pen," same-sex marriage advocate Beth Robinson said to cheers from supporters in the state capital of Montpelier after Vermont's House of Representatives passed the bill by a 100-49 vote.
Known for picturesque foliage, quaint dairy farms and a counter-culture spirit, Vermont joins New England neighbors Connecticut and Massachusetts in allowing gay marriage. Iowa legalized gay marriage last week.
Lawmakers in next-door New Hampshire and Maine are also considering bills to allow gay marriage, putting New England at the heart of a divisive national debate over the issue.
Iowa first Midwest state to allow gay marriage
03 Apr 2009
|DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday struck down a decade-old law that barred gays from marrying, making the state the first in the U.S. heartland to allow same-sex marriages.
Opponents vowed to begin the difficult process of amending the Iowa constitution to overturn the ruling, while supporters said it may encourage other states to allow gay men and women to marry."We won. Not only that, it is unanimous and you are getting married," said Camilla Taylor of Lambda Legal, speaking at a Des Moines hotel to the six same-sex couples who brought the original lawsuit in 2005. The news set off a round of cheers, tears and hugs.
In the Iowa case, Varnum v. Brien, the couples sued Polk County Recorder of Deeds Timothy Brien for refusing to grant them marriage licenses.
A district court judge sided with the couples in August 2007, triggering a rush to the courthouse where one gay couple managed to get a license before the ruling was stayed.The state supreme court affirmed that decision on Friday, declaring unconstitutional the 1998 Iowa Defense of Marriage Act that restricted marriage to one man and one woman.The key principle at the heart of the case was the doctrine of equal protection under the law, which the court said "is essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike."
Pastor T.D. Jakes' stepson faces charge
Thursday 12 Feb 2009
DALLAS – The stepson of megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes has been arrested on an indecent exposure charge.
Dallas police say Jermaine Jakes is accused of exposing himself to two undercover vice detectives last month. He turned himself in Thursday and was released on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond. His lawyer, Faith Johnson, didn't return a call to the AP on Thursday. She told Dallas-Fort Worth television station KTVT: "We are aware of potential allegations involving Jermaine Jakes and are undertaking our own investigation of these allegations at this time."According to an arrest affidavit, the younger Jakes showed himself to the detectives in a public park near his stepfather's church.Jakes' stepfather is a Dallas megachurch pastor who gave a sermon at the prayer service for Barack Obama on the morning he was sworn in as president.
Judge denies request to keep Proposition 8 donors secret
By Aurelio Rojas
Jan 29, 2009
|A federal judge today denied an attempt by Proposition 8 supporters to withhold disclosure of late campaign donors to the state's same-sex marriage ban.
California's Political Reform Act, approved by voters in 1974, requires disclosure of the name, occupation and employer of anyone contributing $100 or more to campaigns. The suit challenges the constitutionality of the disclosure requirement, claiming donors to Proposition 8 have been ravaged by e-mails, phone calls and postcards -- even death threats.Yes on 8 campaign officials said hundreds of people have alleged harassment, intimidation or threats. Attorneys for Proposition 8 assert that First Amendment rights to be free from retaliation outweigh the state's interest in disclosure. But U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. disagreed."The court finds that the state is not facilitating retaliation by compelling disclosure," he said.
Dec 19, 2008
Call to legalise homosexuality
UNITED NATIONS - SIXTY-SIX countries on Thursday called on the United Nations to urge members to decriminalise homosexuality, a position rejected by several Arab countries and the Vatican.A declaration of the rights of gays was submitted to the UN General Assembly for the first time by the ambassador of Argentina, Jorge Arguello, representing 66 of the world body's 192 countries.'We urge states to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention,' the draft document says.The appeal is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states in Article One that 'All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights'.The document reaffirms 'that everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of human rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status'.The 66 countries that signed the document 'are deeply concerned by violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity', it said.In addition, they are 'disturbed that violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity'.The signatories 'condemn the human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur,' especially 'the use of the death penalty on this ground' as well as their 'arbitrary arrest or detention and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health'.After the draft was read, Netherlands Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen and French Human Rights Minister Rama Yade held a high-level meeting to support the resolution.
5 December 2008
Online campiagn leads to rethink at DBS
Bank removes ad references to controversial outfit
By Siow Li Sen
|[SINGAPORE] DBS Bank has removed all referneces to Focus on the Family (FOTF) in its advertising after its credit card promotion supporting the evangelical Christian organisation provoked some angry reactions.
Since the bank's Nov 13 credit card promotion where DBS said that it would donate money to FOTF, "a charity dedicated to helping children and families thrive", members of the gay and lesbian community have called for a boycott of the bank.
FOTF in Singapore is an affiliate of a US-based organisation of the same name founded in 1977 by evangelical Christian James Dobson who campaigns against gay rights.
Last month, FOTF in the US retrenched some 200 staff after it spent US$600,000 to defeat marriage equality in California. Mr Dobson has also railed against US President-elect Barack Obama, who has countered that Mr Dobson "makes things up".
DBS spokeswoman Karen Ngui said that it was never the intention of the bank to alienate any particular group. "DBS supports children and learning in Asia.... it's the cause that we are supporting and not FOTF, and or what it stands for," she said.
She added that DBS believes in diversity and inclusion."We have since removed all references to FOTF in our advertising. ... however, we still support the cause.... and thus will be contributing a small amount to the New Learning Centre for children with learning disabilities, due to be opened in March 2009."The bak's earlier move had sparked an online campaign. Jean Chong, a gay activist with People Like Us, said that to daye, 1,063 people, including non-gays, had signed up with a Facebook group attacking the bank's support for an FOTF cause.While some gay activists concede that DBS may not have known about the anti-gay agenda of FOTF, they felt that it still should not give to the charity because the donation could indirectly beneit its cause."It is my view that unfortunately, DBS did not realise that FOTF has a lot of baggage. It is also unclear how by funding one part of of an organisation' s activities, how much you also indirectly help another of its activities because money is fugible.," said Alex Au, People Like Us activist.Ms Ngui has said that its credit card team checked on FOTF and proceeded as they are endorsed by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and National Council of Social Services (NCSS). "Going forward, the bank will conduct more extensive background checks," she said.
MCC Consecrates First MCC in Asia
Summer News Letter
MCC New York
Sir Cliff Richard reveals details of his ‘close friendship’ with former priest
Sir Cliff Richard has used his autobiography to reveal details about his close friendship with a former Roman Catholic priest.In his book, titled My Life, My Way, the 67-year-old former pop idol describes Father John McElynn as his "companion".Sir Cliff, whose sexuality has long been the subject of speculation, met the American former missionary while visiting New York in 2001.Not long after, McElynn took a sabbatical."He hadn't had any thought at the beginning of giving up the priesthood, but when it became clear he was thinking of the possibility, I suggested he might help me with some charitable projects," Sir Cliff's book says, according to extracts published in the Daily Express newspaper."That was seven years ago and our arrangement has worked out really well."John now spends most of his time looking after my properties, which means I don't have to."John and I have over time struck up a close friendship."He has also become a companion, which is great because I don't like living alone, even now."On the years of speculation about his sexuality, Sir Cliff says he is "sick to death" about it but expresses his support for same-sex relationships."What business is it of anyone else's what any of us are as individuals," he writes.
"I don't think my fans would care either way."Same-sex marriages are perhaps a modern example of how things have changed. I think the church must come round and see people as they are now."Gone are the days when we assumed loving relationships would be solely between men and women."In the end, I believe, people are going to be judged for what they are."It seems to me that commitment is the issue, and if anyone comes to me and says: `This is my partner, we are committed to each other' then I don't care what their sexuality is."I'm not going to judge, I'll leave that to God."Sir Cliff also says while he has twice considered getting married - to dancer Jackie Irving and tennis player Sue Barker - he has no current plans to tie the knot."People often make the mistake of thinking that only marriage equals happiness," his book says."I may suddenly meet someone and feel differently, but right now I am not sure marriage would enhance my happiness."
The Times, July 17, 2008
Bishops 'weakening body of Christ' in row over gays and women
||Conservative bishops have been accused of breaching their duties and damaging the welfare of Christians as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, fights back against his critics.
Anglican bishops arriving for the Lambeth Conference yesterday were told to stop their backstabbing and in-fighting if they were not to “weaken the body of Christ”. A background paper distributed to 650 bishops and archbishops attending the ten-yearly conference in Canterbury told them to remember that their relationships with each other were “fragile and tainted by sin”. Anglican rows over ordaining gay priests and women bishops were damaging for “all the baptised”, it said. But the most stinging criticism was for conservative bishops, of whom 230, mainly from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, are boycotting Lambeth. The paper, commissioned by Dr Williams, made clear that bishops who had transgressed diocesan and provincial boundaries in search of “orthodox” primacy were considered guilty of undermining collegiality. An even worse sin, it suggested, was boycotting the conference. link
Monument to gay victims of the Nazis to be unveiled in Berlin
27 May 2008
|A monument with the video footage of two men kissing will be
unveiled Tuesday in Berlin in memory of the thousands of homosexuals
persecuted, tortured and murdered by the Nazis between 1933 and
At eye level
inside the monument, designed by Norwegian-Danish duo Ingar Dragset
and Michael Elmgreen at a cost of 450,000 euros, is a gap containing
a television screen showing two men kissing. Tuesday's official inauguration ceremony follows years of
controversy. The commemoration of homosexuals' persecution, the
monument's location near the Holocaust memorial and its design has
all been subject to public debate in Germany in recent years. The monument's unveiling will be attended by Berlin's openly gay
mayor Klaus Wowereit, Culture Minister Bernd Neumann and
representatives of Germany's Jewish and Roma communities. No survivors will attend, however. The last known survivor, Pierre
Seel, a Frenchman deported in 1941 when he was 17 years old, died in
November 2005. He described in his memoirs how his first love, 18-
year-old Jo, was torn apart by dogs in front of other prisoners. Seventy-five years
ago, in May 1933, Nazi stormtroopers burst into the Institute for
Sexual Research in Berlin, founded by Magnus Hirschfeld, a German
physician, sexologist and gay-rights advocate. They took the
institute's books to nearby Opera Square and burned them. This was
one of the first stages of the Nazis' persecution of homosexuals. In
2003 the Bundestag decided to put up a monument for the homosexuals'
persecution, and in 2006 a competition was held to select its
designer. On the facade is a text detailing the suffering of homosexuals under
Hitler, who outlawed homosexuality in 1936 and convicted around
50,000 people for "unnatural" behavior deemed unbecoming of
the "Aryan master race.""What we wanted to emphasize is that the different groups the Nazis
persecuted experienced the same horrors," said one of the artists.
This is why their monument's concrete slab resonates with the theme
of the Holocaust memorial across the road. "This is the correct way to commemorate the persecution, " says
Volker Beck, a Green Party representative in the Bundestag and a gay-
rights activist throughout Europe. "Visitors to Berlin will see the
huge Holocaust monument on one side, the much smaller one for gays
on the other side ¬ and understand that we've learned something in
Germany about human rights from World War II."
15 may 2008
'We live in fear,' say gays in Kenya
||NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- In a downtown Nairobi salon, tucked away in
nondescript office building, women sit under hair dryers and gossip.
They have their hair trimmed and their feet and hands pampered.
But there is one patron that draws the eye. In his Bermuda shorts,
orange shirt, and cravat, Jackson Irungu is getting a manicure.
He is among a tiny minority of openly gay men in Kenya who face a
constant barrage of verbal abuse on the street and even occasional
"We live in fear," says Irungu, "There is a perception that being gay
is wrong so it is a bit tricky being gay when you live in Kenya."
Irungu says a friend of his was beaten so badly outside a nightclub in
Nairobi that he had to be taken to hospital. There is no way to
corroborate such incidents with the police because homosexual Kenyans
are just too afraid to report them.
The law books help create the ambivalence. Two separate penal codes
relate to the gays in Kenya and the archaic laws can lead to a 5 to 14
year jail term.
They are rarely enforced, but penal code 162 and 165 are an effective
threat hanging over the gay community. "They have a weapon to which
they defend themselves," says Pauline Kimani, a leader of an umbrella
organization for gays in Kenya.She says that gay Kenyans are arrested on charges like 'loitering' and
"disturbing the peace." VideoWatch report on treatment of gays in Kenya »
"Ending the sodomy laws would be up to members of parliament," says
Kenyan government spokesman Dr. Alfred Mutua, "and they represent the
people." Gay rights is a non-starter for Kenyan politicians and
attempts to repeal the laws have ended practically before they began.The Kenyans who elect the MPs are mostly on their side. A few people
defend gay rights on the streets of Nairobi. But many say that gays
shouldn't have rights, are "un-African, " and not good Christians.
Kenya is a country of faithful people and religion plays a defining
role in homophobia in Kenya. Seventy percent of the country is
Christian and there is a sizeable Muslim and Hindu population.
"This is an abomination that is totally unacceptable by God who formed
us not to function in that way," says Patrick Kuchio, a popular
preacher at Parklands Pentecostal Church.
More traditional denominations in Africa are also conservative,
leading the charge to stop gay pastors from being ordained. Though the
Pentecostal church made major inroads to Kenya only in the 1950s, many
of its supporters, and other faithful in the continent, consider
homosexuality a Western concept.
08 May 2008
Westboro Baptist Church to picket the Beijing Olympics against a "godless, filthy, sodomite China"
||Since the time we told you about Shirley Phelps-Roper's email to China Daily columnist Raymond Zhou, everybody's favourite church, the Westboro Baptist Church has completely revamped its official website GodHatesFags.com (check it out — it actually is looking kinda swanky now). Looking through the site, we found this press release sent out in late January, when China was suffering its worst winter storm in 50 years, praising the Lord for "punishing" China — "that evil nation, awash with the sins of Sodom" — and saying that God was warning China through it all to either "repent or perish".
The group of Christian loonies which has been known to go on public pickets with signs such as "Thank God for 911," "Thank God for AIDS," "Thank God for Katrina," "Thank God for IEDs," and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" also announced plans to "preach to the whole world" — particularly all you "fags" and "fag-enablers" out there — at the Olympic Stadium August 8-24. It's been a while since we last had some good ol'-fashioned gospel preachin', so we will be there with bells on (look out for the guys camping outside the stadium in a row of pink tents!). Between now and then, though, we'll be organising a few prayer meetings to beseech the Lord to please grant our dear preachers their visas.
Edinburgh Evening News - UK:
Gay attack is 'un-Christian' says Foulkes
14 March 2008
LOTHIANS Labour MSP George Foulkes has branded a Catholic bishop's comments "un-Christian".Bishop of Motherwell Joseph Devine caused controversy by claiming that the gay community had launched what he called a "conspiracy" against Christian tradition.
The bishop added: "I saw actor Ian McKellen being honoured for his work on behalf of homosexuals, when a century ago Oscar Wilde was locked up and put in jail."
Now Mr Foulkes has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament expressing concern at "the hurt which will be caused to gay people, and gay Catholics in particular, by the unfortunate, outdated and un-Christian remarks of Bishop Devine".
8 Feb 2008
Bishop Jones apologises for Reading-affair open letter
THE Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones, has had a Damascus-road experience about homosexuality.Writing in a new book, A Fallible Church, he describes how a close reading of the love between David and Jonathan, and between Christ and the beloved disciple, has changed his outlook. Bishop Jones was one of nine bishops who, in an open letter, denounced the appointment of the Revd Dr Jeffrey John as Area Bishop of Reading (News, 20 June 2003). The offer of the post was subsequently withdrawn. In a chapter in A Fallible Church, Bishop Jones writes: “I deeply regret this episode in our common life. I regret, too, having objected publicly without first having consulted the Archbishops of York and Canterbury, and subsequently apologised to them and to colleagues in a private meeting of the House of Bishops. “I still believe that it was unwise to try to take us to a place that evidently did not command the broad support of the Church of England, but I am sorry for the way I opposed it, and I am sorry, too, for adding to the pain and distress of Dr John and his partner. I regret, too, that this particular controversy narrowed rather than enlarged the space for healthy debate.” The notion of space for debate is central to Bishop Jones’s essay. He describes a formal consultation between Liverpool and its two linked dioceses, Virginia in the United States and Akure in Nigeria. Two years of exchanges, and two conferences, between people “whose mutual trust and affection [prompt them] to think the best and not the worst of each other”, have given him “a deeper and more affectionate understanding” of their cultures. The dialogue, he says, has taken place between four “walls”: to recognise the biblical emphasis on the uniqueness of marriage as a divine ordinance; to acknowledge the biblical examples of love between two people of the same gender; to register the central place of conscience in the Anglican tradition; and to understand that disunity saps the energy of the Church. Bishop Jones severely criticises the press for its desire to “polarise the debate into simply two clear-cut oppositional positions”. He goes on: “This is not to deny that in the end an ethical decision has to be taken. What it recognises is that there needs to be more space along the way for people to view the terrain from different vantage points.” For Americans, this means that homosexuality is set in the context of civil rights. For Nigerians, its acceptance would allow Islamic critics “to portray the Church as compromised, weak, and in moral decline. These are serious missiological issues which need to be recognised and addressed.” Bishop Jones says that his change of understanding came through his study of David and Jonathan. It was spiritual, physical, and covenantal. He declines to consider whether the relationship was sexual: “Immediately you start using such words you conjure up stereotypes and prejudices. . . Is it not possible to say that here are two men with the capacity to love fully, both women and men?” Again, he cites the gospel accounts of Christ’s relationship with John, which describe the disciple “leaning against the bosom, breast, chest of Jesus. . . Here is energising love, spiritual, emotional, and physical.” Bishop Jones compares the present controversy in Anglicanism to the dispute in the Early Church about circumcision. Even though a section of the Church argued that circumcision was necessary for salvation, undermining the doctrine of justification through faith, St Luke refers to them as “believers”. “It is clear that controversy can impair friendship, can affect ministry, and even undermine mission, but only Christ can determine communion.”
Is Dobson's Political Clout Fading?
24 Jan 2008
The founder of the Colorado Springs-based organization may have reason to be concerned about his influence. At the age of 71 and semi-retired from the day-to-day operations of his organization, Dobson is seeing Focus on the Family's fortunes wane — CEO Jim Daly describes them as "flat" — perhaps an inevitability for a ministry pegged to one towering figure. The ministry's expenses have exceeded its revenues for two years — what Daly calls a "drawdown from reserves" — by $4.1 million in fiscal year 2006 and by $9.9 million in 2005. (Figures for 2007 have not yet been released.)
The ministry apparently has been "flat" for some time. For example, in 1994 Dobson's monthly newsletter had a circulation of 2.4 million copies. Today, that circulation is about 1.1 million. Also, in the 1990s, Dobson was drawing audiences of 15,000 or more to his speeches; but in the lead-up to the 2006 mid-term election, only about 1,000 people heard his anti-abortion speech at the 2,500-seat Mt. Rushmore National Monument amphitheatre. Daly explains that the event was a last-minute invitation and that Dobson rarely accepts speaking engagements. According to news accounts and audited financial reports posted online for potential donors, the organization's staffing is down (30 layoffs last September). Total donations and number of donors are down as well. Focus orders and resells copies of Dobson's tapes and books, which are the evangelist's personal business; but those purchases have declined from $678,000 in 2004 to $269,000 in 2006. His last book was published in 2001; another is not anticipated until 2009. The whole Dobson family, including wife Shirley, daughter Danae and son Ryan, produce books and tapes, but revenue from all Dobson-family materials are down, from $781,000 in 2004 to $307,000 in 2006.
A listening faith
Jan 22, 2008
Sir, As an Anglican, I am dismayed by what the Rev Dr Peter Mullen writes about homosexual people (“Beware the dark side of the new moral consensus”, Jan 19).
After the failure of the Lambeth Conference 1998 to listen properly to the life experiences of a delegation of gay Christians, a process was established — the “Listening Process” — whereby, during the years leading up to Lambeth 2008, there would be opportunities, across the communion, for gay people to tell their life experiences and to be listened to courteously: that “process” to be carefully monitored and reported upon. It seems quite extraordinary that, after such a decade, the Rev Dr Mullen, referring to gay people, writes only of “the love which once dare not speak its name shrieking at us, in high camp, from decorated floats along the high street”. Perhaps he has not listened to the quiet voices of the many gay clergy and lay people who work along side him in ministry. I doubt that they would flaunt their sexuality on the high street or anywhere else. It is a sad truth that too many gay people spend years of isolation within the closet, fearful of the consequences of coming out. Those who do emerge often need specialised support to overcome the damage to their lives and wellbeing caused by ignorance, prejudice and sometimes bullying encountered daily within school, workplace and on the street. Some marry to escape the hostility. Others, unable to withstand the strain of loneliness and fear, take their own life. People, especially those influential within faith groups, should think long and hard about the negative effects that their words can have on the lives of gay people and on the lives of those in the families to which they belong. They might think also about the dangers of generalisations. Christine Holt
By: ANTHONY M. BROWN
Gay City News
According to the Catholic Church, I'm more dangerous than al-Qaeda. My daughter belongs in a madrasa and I commit acts of social terrorism every time I introduce my husband Gary as my "husband Gary." Pope Benedict XVI believes that gay people are a greater threat to the family than global violence or nuclear proliferation.
In his January 1, 2008 World Peace Day address, the pontiff stated that deviation from the "one man, one woman" family structure was against the moral norm, and prioritized it in his speech as a more dire concern than the conflict in the Middle East or global warming.
I guess that makes me a marriage terrorist.
I never understood why Catholics hate gays. I know that statement is a generalization. My in-laws have loved Gary and me for the last 19 years, Gary much longer, and have been Catholic the whole time. The Spanish Inquisition, a tolerantly permissive attitude toward the Nazis, and the child molestation scandal cover-up aside, the Catholic Church has done a lot of good for the world.
It's ironic, though, that the people in the Church hierarchy who are so critical of our families and who have made it their mission to see that we cannot marry, have all pledged to live outside the "family," on whose behalf they so loudly protest, and are all "married to God." Whatever the reason, the church's message against gay people takes it toll......
Each respondent had their own story of when, why, and how they felt betrayed by their own church and left it.We are adults. Wounds are processed in a different way. When a 13-year-old sits in that church and hears their words of intolerance and cannot understand why they are "different," he or she just might believe the church. Last week a 14-year-old British girl hung herself because she could no longer take the schoolyard taunting about her being lesbian. An 11-year-old boy killed himself the year before in Sussex England because of gay-related hate bullying.And yet the Church maintains that there is no connection to its stance of anti-gay bigotry. When a Church lends its implicit seal of approval to marginalizing and denigrating others, there can be no Christian reason.
The Church's true colours
11 Jan 2008
||After three decades of trying to promote tolerance towards gay and lesbian Christians, the lead advocate is leaving, disillusioned
It is a favourite mantra among those loyal to new Labour that Britain is a much better place today than it was a decade ago - forward-looking, cosmopolitan and above all tolerant. The evidence often invoked on the last score is the emanci pation of lesbians and gay men. Riding high on law reform, the civil partnerships revolution and steadily increasing visibility from the cabinet to reality TV, many gay campaigners would agree.
But that is not how it appears if you are Reverend Richard Kirker, who is about to step down after nearly 30 years as head of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM). For the first half of that time, he fought a lonely battle to get church leaders to discuss sexuality. Now it's hard to get them to talk about anything else, but not in the way he had in mind. Homosexuality is at the centre of a global struggle for the soul of the Anglican Communion, and as gay people are accused of bestiality and demonic possession, the Church seems to have become a repository for the homophobia unacceptable in the rest of society.
Whereas in the old days the Church's anti-gay faction was led by an obscure "Mary Whitehouse in a dog collar" called Reverend Tony Higton, Kirker's main enemy today is Archbishop Peter Akinola, the powerful Anglican Primate of Nigeria. In open disregard of the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution to "listen to the experience of homosexual persons" and to "condemn irrational fear of homosexuals", Akinola says homosexuality is as dangerous to mankind as global warming. If Rowan Williams has issued any rebuke, it has been barely audible until recently. Gay-friendly before becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, he now reserves his chief condemnation for the North American Episcopalians who have elected an openly gay bishop. Many of the archbishop's former close gay friends have been left reeling by what they call his betrayal.
Christian extremism raises alarm
Christian Science Monitor
04 Jan 2008
||Sacramento, Calif. - A hate-crime trial reconvenes Friday in a case that's dividing Sacramento and drawing attention from organizations that monitor extremists.
Alex Shevchenko has been arraigned for a hate crime tied to the assault and eventual death of Satender Singh in July. According to prosecutors, Mr. Shevchenko and Andrey Vusik taunted Mr. Singh in a park because they thought he was gay. Mr. Vusik eventually threw a punch that toppled Singh, dashing his head, they charge. Gay leaders in Sacramento say the incident followed several years of escalating tensions with some Slavic immigrants.
"The gut feeling of the [gay] community is that preaching among the local Russian evangelical community is breeding hate and that something would happen. And Satender was the something that happened," says Ed Bennett, a gay Democratic activist.
While Slavic leaders say their community is being unfairly scapegoated for legitimate political protests and deeply held religious beliefs, some monitors warn that an emerging group called the Watchmen on the Walls may be fomenting a dangerous atmosphere within the ranks of Slavic immigrants here.
"This group has engaged in extremely vicious antigay propaganda, and oftentimes it is that kind of propaganda that is taken by hate criminals as permission to go ahead and attack," says Mark Potok, editor of the Southern Poverty Law Center's "Intelligence Report," which tracks hate crimes nationwide. One gay Russian-speaker – who requests anonymity for personal safety – expresses dismay that the death of Singh hasn't galvanized more moderate Slavic voices. The "mythologizing" of gays as the enemy continues in the local Russian-language media, he says. .......
"It's all about gays and their agenda. Gays are some evil group that is so organized. I didn't know that I belonged to this very powerful group of people," he says. He acknowledges that having Russian-speakers come out of the closet would help change views. "But who is going to do that? I would expose myself to so much hate from people who don't know me."
Ho-hum civil union rights
03 Jan 2008
WHEN VERMONT legislators legalized civil unions for gay couples in 2000, there was a bitter backlash against the reform. But on New Year's Day, New Hampshire joined Vermont, Connecticut, and New Jersey in extending civil union rights to gay and lesbian couples, and the event was met with a collective yawn. There are several reasons for this change, but the most important is that residents of New Hampshire have had a chance to observe Vermont and Connecticut's civil unions and Massachusetts' same-sex marriage, and realized that extending rights to a minority is no threat to the majority - or to the institution of marriage.
Not too many years ago, the fiery conservatism of the Manchester Union-Leader newspaper and the state's former governor, Meldrim Thomson, made New Hampshire an unlikely candidate for quiet acceptance of expanded rights for gays. But as resistant as its citizens have been to broad-based taxes or expanded government, there has always been a live-and-let-live streak in the state that has made it infertile ground for politicians telling other people how to live. Recently, the state's high-tech industries have brought in highly trained newcomers with broad views on social issues. Polling for the presidential primary shows that gay marriage is of minor concern to the state's voters.
This page finds civil unions to be an inadequate substitute for true marriage equality. Still, there likely would have been more opposition had New Hampshire legalized gay marriage and not just civil unions, which are seen as a compromise measure. Also, the fact that New Hampshire's elected legislators initiated the change, as opposed to an "unelected" court, as was the case in both Vermont and Massachusetts, may have made the reform more acceptable to voters.
But the strongest factor making civil unions such a non-issue in New Hampshire has to be the opportunity the state has had to look elsewhere in New England, where experience shows that legal recognition of same sex couples has stabilized and strengthened those relationships without doing anything to weaken heterosexual marriage. Like other civil union laws, New Hampshire's grants gays property rights, shared wills, and hospital visitation privileges. Several other states have created varying levels of rights in domestic partnership laws.
02 Dec 2007
Philadelphia Boy Scouts Face Eviction Over Anti-Gay Policy
The Philadelphia Boy Scouts could find themselves booted from their historic dowtown headquarters Monday unless a dispute with City Hall over the group's anti-gay policies is resolved. The Cradle of Liberty Council—Philadelphia's Boy Scout chapter—has been housed in an historic building in downtown Philly for almost 80 years, paying almost nothing for the prime piece of proprety under the terms of a 100-year sweetheart lease it inked with the city in 1928. But that lease is set to expire, and city officials say the taxpayer's shouldn't be footing the Scouts rent bill because of it's national policy banning openly gay members and leaders. The Scouts must either pony up the fair market rent for the space—about $200,000 a year—or find a new home. "If they want to accept the national policies of the Boy Scout organization they have to be able to pay for it," said Philadelphia City Councilman Jack Kelly.According to a letter the Boy Scouts received from City Solicitor Rome Diaz, the Boy Scouts have until Dec. 3 to sign a new lease and start paying for the use of the property, or the city will find a new tennant and the scouts will be evicted.
22 Nov 2007
In rare move, SG gives approval to JDM
||SINGAPORE (AFP) - In a rare move, Singapore has given approval for an American gay couple to perform next month as part of a concert to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.The Los Angeles-based Christian gay couple Jason and deMarco were barred in 2005 from performing in the city-state.But the Media Development Authority (MDA) said it had approved a concert this time because organisers had given assurances that they aimed to highlight the HIV/AIDS issue."In 2005, a similar concert featuring the pop duo was disallowed because the concert was open to general members of the public," the MDA's deputy director for arts and licensing, Amy Tsang, said in a statement Thursday.She said concert organisers have "given the assurance to MDA that the concert is targeted at the high risk groups."The organiser has also assured MDA that the aim of the concert is AIDS education and HIV prevention," she said.The duo is to perform on December 13, the Today newspaper reported.Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore's second minister for information, communications and the arts, has said the city-state was liberalising but retained a very strong conservative core.As part of major revisions to the Penal Code approved by parliament last month, Singapore legalised oral and anal sex between heterosexual couples but retained a law which criminalises intercourse between gay men.
18 Nov 07
Tutu criticises church’s attitude to homosexuality
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND Tutu has criticised his own church for being "obsessed" with homosexuality.
The South African Nobel laureate said God "must be weeping" at seeing that the Church had such misplaced priorities. He also criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury for not demonstrating the attributes of a "welcoming God".
Speaking on a BBC Radio 4 programme, the archbishop, 76, said: "Our world is facing problems - poverty, HIV and Aids, a devastating pandemic, and conflict. In the face of all of that, our Church, especially the Anglican Church, at this time is almost obsessed with questions of human sexuality."
Tutu said the Anglican Church had appeared "extraordinarily homophobic" during the debate over whether Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, should become the Bishop of New Hampshire.
Tutu said he felt "saddened" and "ashamed" of his church at that time.
When 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."
He also rebuked religious conservatives who say that homosexuality is a choice gay people make.
He said: "It is a perversion if you say to me that a person chooses to be homosexual. You must be crazy to choose a way of life that exposes you to a kind of hatred. It's like saying you choose to be black in a race -hate infected society."
Criticising Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Tutu said: "Why doesn't he demonstrate a particular attribute of God's, which is that God is a welcoming God?" The US conservative bishop, Robert Duncan, Ann Widdecombe MP, and the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey criticise Tutu's views during the programme.
Pastor in Microsoft 'gay rights' share bid
By Toby Harnden in Redmond, Washington
16 Nov 2007
A black conservative Christian pastor of an evangelical megachurch has vowed to take over Microsoft by packing it with new shareholders who will vote against the company's policy of championing gay rights. The Reverend Ken Hutcherson, a former Dallas Cowboys linebacker, heads the Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, home of Microsoft.
He told Microsoft executives at a shareholders' meeting last week that he would be their "worst nightmare" if they continued to defy him.
Antioch Bible Church attracts around 3,500 worshippers for its services and Mr Hutcherson is a powerful figure in the Christian conservative movement. His church, which emphasises racial diversity and a strict moral code, grew from a bible study class for just 15 people in 1984. 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."
Mr Hutcherson's office is decorated with the heads of deer, elk and a buffalo – "when I run into animals, I kill them and bring them home and eat them" – as well as invitations to the White House and signed pictures of himself with President George W. Bush. His ambitious plan signals a new offensive in his two-year battle with Microsoft after it abandoned its neutral stance on gay rights legislation, which he says he helped secretly negotiate before outraged gay employees intervened. By trying to become a political player in Washington state, he said, the company was trying to impose its sinful ways on others. "Microsoft stepped out of their four walls into my world so that gives me the right to step out of my world into their world," he said. "They tried to turn their policy into state policy, making their policy something I had to submit to. And my playbook [the bible] tells me you don't submit to sin."
Church Of Norway Eases Ban Against Ordination Of Homosexual Clergy
16 Nov 2007
Oslo, Norway (AHN) - Norway's state Evangelical-Lutheran church lifted a ban Friday and will allow clergies in same sex relationships to be ordained.
Currently, the church allows homosexuals to serve in the clergy as long as they are not living with their gay partner. The new ruling leaves it up to each of the country's 11 bishops to make individual decision on whether to employ those clergies who are in homosexual partnerships. Earlier this year, six bishops had voted on easing the ban. The 86 members of the highest decision-making body, the general synod, voted 50-34 to approve a new principle which stated that there were two opposite views, both based on church teachings, on same-sex relationships. Friday's vote is seen as a compromise on a 1997 resolution passed by the highest body in Norway's state Protestant church that barred all clergies in homosexual partnerships from holding consecrated posts. The vote elicited mixed response. Opponents feel that homosexuality goes against the Bible's teachings while those supporting say a modern church should be all-inclusive, irrespective of a person's sexual orientation. The Associated Press reports Marit Tingelstad, head of the Bishop's Council for southeastern Norway's Hamar district, saying on the state radio network NRK: "This will create peace in the church, and security for homosexual clergy." Bishop Ole D. Hagesaeter, of the Bjoergvin district, said: "This is a sad day for the church. It will be a splitting factor and lead to many feeling homeless in the church." Norwegian law offers people in homosexual partnerships the same rights as those in heterosexual marriages, exceptions being church weddings and adoption. The church has nearly 85 percent of the country's population as members and the topic has generated heated debate.
16 Nov 2007
Singapore bans Xbox game over lesbian scene
Singapore has banned the sale of an Xbox video game that features an intimate scene between two female characters, a statement received Thursday said.
The "Mass Effect" game, a futuristic space adventure, contains "a scene of lesbian intimacy... as such the game has been disallowed," the deputy director of the Board of Film Censors said in the statement. The board is part of the Media Development Authority (MDA), Singapore's media watchdog. Under local guidelines, video games sold in Singapore cannot "feature exploitative or gratuitous sex and violence, or denigrate any race or religion," the official said. "Mass Effect" is to be launched globally next week. US software giant Microsoft, maker of the Xbox gaming console, said it respected the media watchdog's action. "We strictly adhere to the laws, regulations and norms of the markets we operate in," the company said in an e-mail reply to AFP. MDA said a new video games classification system to be introduced next year could allow titles such as "Mass Effect" to be passed and classified appropriately. Singapore is Southeast Asia's most advanced economy but the government maintains strict censorship laws. Earlier this year the city-state banned two other video games, "God of War II" for nudity and "The Darkness" for excessive violence and religiously offensive expletives, the statement said. Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore's second minister for information, communications and the arts, has said the city-state was liberalising but retained a very strong conservative core. As part of major revisions to the Penal Code approved by parliament last month, Singapore legalised oral and anal sex between heterosexual couples but retained a law which criminalises intercourse between gay men.
13 Nov 07
Member of Iranian Parliament admits homosexuals in his country are
executed. 'They spread diseases. It's a severe crime that is against
the laws of nature,' he says.
Homosexuals should be executed, Iranian Parliament Member Mohsen
Yahyavi said during a discussion between Iranian legislators and
British officials in London in May, according to the protocol of the
meeting published Tuesday in the British newspaper The Times.
Yahyavi, a member of the committee on energy affairs in Iran's
Parliament, was in Britain for a peace summit.
Opposition "According to Islamic law, homosexuality is a grave crime," Yahyavi
was quoted as saying. "It's a severe crime that goes against the
laws of nature. It is human nature to procreate and homosexuals do
not procreate." The Iranian legislator added, "We do not have any opposition to this
type of behavior as long as it is done behind closed doors, but
those who (engage in) this behavior in public should be put to
The protocol shows that Yahyavi originally indicated that
homosexuals should be "tortured," but he quickly corrected himself
and said they should be "put to death." Human rights in Iran
Britain and various human rights groups have been constantly
criticizing Iran for its poor humans rights record. Recently, the
Iranian government was given a report which accuses the pariah state
of publicly hanging people convicted of engaging in homosexual
Iran has also been accused with executing women who were raped or
accused of adultery.
The issue of homosexuality in Iran gained the world's attention when
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad referred to it by saying "we
don't have this phenomenon in Iran" during a visit to the US in
October. A day after his controversial appearance at Columbia
University, a Tehran resident says, 'They exist, but have to hide.'
|GOP Senator Investigates Spending at Several TV Ministries
By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 7, 2007;
Some of the nation's biggest televangelists -- including faith healer Benny Hinn and best-selling Christian book author Joyce Meyer -- are targets of an investigation by Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.
After receiving reports of lavish spending at the ministries, Grassley said yesterday that he has requested detailed documents on the finances of the organizations, which bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in donations annually.
All of the ministries have been the target of complaints for years by watchdog organizations, which have alleged that the groups' charismatic leaders dip deeply into donations to fund extravagant lifestyles. The Grassley investigation is "well-deserved and well-overdue, " said Rusty Leonard, who runs MinistryWatch. com, which examines how nonprofit Christian organizations spend donations. Under Internal Revenue Service regulations, religious organizations "whose principal purpose is the study or advancement of religion" are exempt from financial reporting requirements demanded of other groups. The ministries are "organized as churches, and therefore they don't have to give you any financial information whatsoever," Leonard said. Grassley, who in recent years has forced changes in such nonprofit organizations as the American Red Cross, the Nature Conservancy, American University and the Smithsonian Institution, said in a statement that the allegations involve such amenities as private jets and Rolls-Royces. He has also asked for credit card records, clothing and jewelry expenses and any cosmetic surgery expenses.
Hinn ministries spokesman Ronn Torossian said Hinn "complies with the laws that govern church and nonprofit organizations and will continue to do so." Meyer, who is based in Fenton, Mo., has said that her accouterments, including multimillion- dollar homes and luxury cars, are blessings from God. In a statement, Meyer attorney Thomas J. Winters said the IRS recently concluded after an investigation that the organization continues to qualify for tax-exempt status. The other televangelists under investigation include Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church, based in Tampa; Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, based in Newark, Tex.; and from Georgia, Bishop Eddie L. Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International.
06 Nov 2007
Sex party broken up, 34 rounded up at shoplot
By BERNARD SEE
PENANG: From the front, it looked just like any other shoplot but on the inside, the third-floor shoplot in Medan Fettes actually housed a fitness centre-cum-sauna used for gay sex parties. A police team raided the premises at about 7.30pm on Sunday while a sex party was in progress and rounded up 34 men, aged between 22 and 55, including a Briton. George Town OCPD Asst Comm Azam Abd Hamid said numerous used condoms were found strewn all over the floor of the sauna by the team. “Seven tubes of lubrication jelly, 20 gay magazines, four pornographic VCDs and six boxes of condoms were seized from the premises. “The men were brought back to the Patani Road police station and released after their statements were taken. Three workers were also picked up in the raid. “We will check with the authorities if the operator has abused his business licence. We will not tolerate the presence of such joints in the district,” he said yesterday. ACP Azam said the raid was part of the police’s ongoing operation codenamed Ops Bersih aimed at keeping all types of vice activities in check. A resident who wanted to be known only as Ah Leong, 35, said he had lived in the area all his life but he did not know that such a place existed. “Apparently, the place was only known by word of mouth. I was told that the place had been in operation for more than a year.” On April 3, police raided two similar joints, which was operating without a licence, at a shopping complex in Jalan Burma and picked up more than 30 men.
|“Grace Under Fire”
Controversial Anglican Bishop to Visit Hong Kong – October 20 & 21
The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson will visit Hong Kong in the third week of October. He is the Episcopal Bishop of the American Diocese of New Hampshire, and the first openly gay and partnered bishop in the 78 million member worldwide Anglican Communion. The bishop is using his sabbatical leave as an opportunity to become better acquainted with Southeast Asia.
His consecration in 2003 created a storm in the Anglican world. The upheaval continues to threaten the future unity of the communion. Very much “the eye at the center of that storm”, Bishop Robinson is, at the same time, in the perception of the many more who have come to know him in his unsolicited celebrity, a profound embodiment of “grace under fire”.
A man of deep faith and courage, his center holds firm even in the face of all the vitriol and hatred that have been directed at him. The threats to his life before his consecration were serious enough for those charged with his protection to compel him to wear a bulletproof vest under his vestments on that special day.
In visiting Hong Kong, Bishop Robinson visits a region and a church in which the rights of sexual minorities are not fully protected by law and in which discrimination against sexual minorities remains the social and ecclesial norm.
The Hong Kong Christian Institute, The Hong Kong Christian Women Council, and the Spiritual Seekers Society will welcome this important voice for justice and for a more inclusive church and society, and host an address entitled “Securing Justice for Sexual Minorities”. From the wealth of his personal experience, the Bishop will speak to the work of doing justice in the social, political and institutional-religious arenas.Bishop Robinson will speak on Saturday afternoon, October 20th, at 3:30PM, at City University of Hong Kong LT - 17. There will be an opportunity for dialogue. Simultaneous translation will be provided.On Sunday afternoon, October 21st, at 4PM, the Bishop will visit and address the Blessed Minority Christian Fellowship at their place of worshipThere will be an “Ecumenical Evensong for a More Inclusive Church and Society”, at Bethanie Chapel, on the campus of the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts in Pokfulam, Sunday afternoon, October 21st, at 6:30PM. After the service, Bishop Robinson will address those who have come to pray.
Reuters 31 Oct 2007
Kansas church liable in Marine funeral protest
BALTIMORE (Reuters) - A jury on Wednesday ordered an anti-gay Kansas church to pay $10.9 million in damages to relatives of a U.S. Marine who died in Iraq after church members cheered his death at his funeral.
Church members said Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder's death was God's punishment of America for tolerating homosexuality, and they attended his 2006 funeral in Maryland with signs saying "You're going to hell" and "God hates you."
The federal jury determined the Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, and three of its principals invaded the privacy of the dead man's family and inflicted emotional distress.
Albert Snyder, the Marine's father, testified that his son was not gay, but the church targeted the military as a symbol of America's tolerance of gays. Matthew Snyder died in combat in Iraq in March 2006.
The jury awarded Snyder's family $2.9 million in compensatory damages plus $8 million in punitive damages in the first civil suit against the church, which has demonstrated at some 300 military funerals the past two years.
The lawsuit said church Web sites vilified U.S. soldiers, accusing them of being indoctrinated by "fag propaganda."
"I hope it's enough to deter them from doing this to other families. It was not about the money. It was about getting them to stop," said Snyder, of York, Pennsylvania.
The church, which is unaffiliated with any major denomination, is headed by Rev. Fred Phelps, who has led a campaign against homosexuality for years. Most of the estimated 70 members of the church belong to his extended family
It will take the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals a few minutes to reverse this silly thing," Phelps said.
His daughter and co-defendant, Shirley Phelps-Roper, vowed to continue protesting military funerals and called the court's decision a blow against free speech.
Outside court on Wednesday, Phelps and his children waved placards with slogans such as "Pray for more dead kids" and "God hates fag enablers," while passing drivers and pedestrians shouted abuse at them.
Defense attorney Jonathan Katz urged jurors not to award punitive damages because the $2.9 million in compensatory damages was already three times the defendants' net worth.
"It's enough already to bankrupt them and financially destroy them," Katz said.
Craig Trebilcock, an attorney for Snyder, said jurors should award sufficient punitive damages to deter Westboro from repeating its actions.
|18 Oct 2007
The New Paper
IT'S ALL ABOUT EQUAL RIGHTS
||Don't speculate about me, focus on issue, says NMP in gay-rights fight
By Leong Ching
Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong is 32, a lawyer and a young activist. He has spoken on CPF reforms, discrimination against NSmen and
ministers' pay in Parliament. Now, however, he could be most remembered as the NMP who brought the
gay issue to Parliament. Mr Siew is tabling a petition in Parliament to repeal a law that makes
gay sex a crime.
And it has led many to wonder: Is he gay?
'I am not. I have a girlfriend,' Mr Siew told The New Paper.
'But I have been staying clear of this question - because that is not
the issue. It has nothing to do with whether I am gay or not.
'So I have deliberately refrained from volunteering that I am straight.
But since you asked, I responded.' His is not an agenda on behalf of gay rights. There is a larger issue.'I truly do believe that Section 377A is unfair, unjust, and plain
wrong,' he said.'It is contrary to principles of equality and non-discrimination, and
it seeks to use the criminal law to enforce a specific moral view which
is contrary to accepted fundamental precepts of criminal law.'The Parliamentary Petition will be filed ahead of Parliament's sitting
on Monday. MPs are slated to speak on the amendments to the Penal Code, which
governs most criminal offences here.The proposed changes are many, as the law has not been amended since
the mid-1980s. However, they do not include Section 377A, under which it is a crime
for men to have sex with each other, even in their own bedroom. Mr Siew said earlier that the idea for the petition was suggested by
its two lead signatories, lawyer George Hwang and gay media company
Fridae.com's chief executive Stuart Koe.
On his blog, in public comments and in interviews, Mr Siew has avoided
declaring his sexuality - until now.'For the record, I am decidedly straight. I am in a serious and
committed relationship with a wonderful woman,' he said. 'But I have always been loathe to mention that because I did not want
to dignify this sort of speculation with such a disclaimer. 'Whether I am gay or not should really have nothing to do with the
merits of the debate. 'After all, this is not a gay issue but an issue of equality and
non-discrimination.'It is an issue for all Singaporeans. The debate, he stressed, 'is about the public, the people,
heterosexuals and gays, who believe that Section 377A is wrong and
should be repealed, and are willing to put their names down in writing
to stand behind it.'His girlfriend, he said, also signed the petition. He declined to give
further details about her, save that 'she supports me in doing this'.He admits that there will be 'perceptions and suspicions' that he is
tabling the petition because he is himself gay. 'That really speaks volumes about the level of debate in Singapore,' he
said. His actions, he said, were motivated by his long-held personal views,
'views which I must add are held by a broad spectrum of Singaporeans
regardless of sexual orientation' , he said. 'I felt an obligation to agree to present the petition to Parliament,'
he said, adding that he was 'completely overwhelmed' by the response
the petition has generated - both positive and negative.More than three newspaper forum letter writers have argued against
repealing the law. One also questioned Mr Siew's right to raise the
issue in Parliament. While Mr Siew did not want to talk about the outcome he is hoping for,
he added that he is happy the petition 'has generated a useful
discourse'.'It is important to have a debate on the concepts of equality and
non-discrimination in Singapore.
'It was a diverse group of people who signed the petition - straight,
gay, male, female, young, middle-aged, old. Even religious people
signed the petition. 'So that shows that these issues cut across lines and resonate
universally, ' he said.But the petition is unlikely to move the Goverment. It has already said
that it would not amend the law. At a forum last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong explained that
the Government's view was that it should not push forward on this
issue, but follow society's views.And the majority of Singaporeans, he said, was not ready.Earlier, the Government had said that it would maintain the status quo,
as Singapore is generally a conservative society. But authorities would
not actively prosecute people under Section 377A. Constitutional lawyer Kevin Tan said he, too, did not think the
petition would lead to any change in legislation.'The Government has stated its stand, and since the arguments in the
petition are not new, I can't see the Government back tracking,' he
15 Oct 2007
Vatican official insists he's not gay
||VATICAN CITY - A Vatican official suspended after being caught on hidden camera making advances to a young man said in an interview published Sunday that he is not gay and was only pretending to be gay as part of his work.
In an interview with La Repubblica newspaper, Monsignor Tommaso Stenico said he frequented online gay chat rooms and met with gay men as part of his work as a psychoanalyst. He said that he pretended to be gay in order to gather information about "those who damage the image of the Church with homosexual activity."
Vatican teaching holds that homosexual activity is a sin."It's all false; it was a trap. I was a victim of my own attempts to contribute to cleaning up the Church with my psychoanalyst work," La Repubblica quoted Stenico as saying.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Saturday that the monsignor had been suspended pending a Vatican investigation. Stenico is a top official in the Vatican's Congregation of the Clergy.The Vatican after acted Vatican officials recognized Stenico's office in the background of a television program on gay priests that was broadcast on Oct. 1 on La7, a private Italian TV network. Stenico was secretly filmed making advances to a young man and asserting that gay sex was not sinful.In the Repubblica interview, Stenico said he had met with the young man and pretended to talk about homosexuality "to better understand this mysterious and faraway world which, by the fault of a few people — among them some priests — is doing so much harm to the Church."He said he had never been gay and was heterosexual, but remained faithful to his vow of celibacy.Italy's Sky TG24 said Stenico had written a letter to his superiors with a similar defense.Calls to Stenico's home and Vatican office went unanswered Sunday.
|14 Oct 2007
||ROME (AFP) - The Vatican has suspended a senior cleric who confessed his homosexuality on a television programme, even though his face and voice were made unrecognisable, a spokesman was quoted as saying Saturday. "His superiors are treating this situation with the required discretion and respect due to the person concerned, even if this person has committed errors," Federico Lombardi told the Italian news agency ANSA. The daily La Repubblica identified the priest concerned, who was not named, as an official aged around 60 in the Congregation for the Clergy, the Vatican department which manages the 400,000 Catholic priests across the world.
"The authorities are obliged to act with the necessary severity against behaviour that is incompatible with religious service and the mission of the Holy See," Lombardi said.Four gay priests appeared in the television programme broadcast on October 1 on the national television channel La7. All had their faces hidden from the camera and their voices electronically disguised.But the suspended prelate made the mistake of giving the televised interview in his Vatican office, which was identified by other staff, La Repubblica said.In the interview, he said that he did not regard himself as a sinner, but had to be discreet in order not to attract the attention of his superiors.
13 Oct 2007
Thousands march in Taipei for gay rights
TAIPEI, Oct 13, 2007 (AFP) - Thousands from Taiwan's gay and lesbian community marched through the streets of Taipei Saturday demanding more rights for homosexuals, organisers said.
The parade took a carnival-like mood with marchers waving rainbow flags, colourful balloons and signs. Some were dressed in flamboyant period costumes while others only wore swim trunks despite the cool weather. "We have to make our voices and demands heard so that the government will do more to promote gay rights," said Way Chao, a 22-year-old serviceman from southern Kaohsiung.
In a symbol of unity, participants will raise coloured placards to form a giant rainbow flag later Saturday in a bustling business district in Taipei, organisers said.
The parade reached its climax with a rally outside Taipei City Hall, where Taiwanese pop diva A-Mei was recognised as a goodwill ambassador by organisers for her support of the gay community.
The singer, who performed some of her hit songs to the cheering crowd, endeared herself to the gay audience when she released a music video depicting a gay wedding scene several years ago.
Despite the festive atmosphere, organisers hoped to get some serious messages across to the public.
"We urge the parliament to pass the anti-discrimination bill and the same-sex partner bill to promote gay rights," said co-organiser Wang Ping, secretary-general of Gender/Sexuality Rights Association Taiwan.Taiwan's cabinet in 2003 drafted a controversial bill to legalise same-sex marriages and recognise the rights of homosexual couples to adopt children, the first country in Asia to do so.However, the law has yet to be passed and some gay groups have criticised the bill as a ploy to woo voters."We also hope the government will protect the freedom of speech of the gay community," Wang added, referring to a 2005 guilty verdict against a gay book dealer for selling pornographic magazines.In 2005, a district court in northern Taiwan sentenced J.J. Lai, owner of a gay bookstore in Taipei, to 50 days in jail on obscenity charges in a ruling which outraged the gay community.Lai argued that similar materials are easily available for heterosexual readers. However, his appeal was rejected by the Taiwan High Court.
Thursday September 27, 2007
After months of "Anglican church to divide" headlines, the end is, at last, nigh. Those Anglicans who are really no more than fundamentalists in vestments will split off and form a version of the continuing Anglican church, or whatever they will call it. And the moderate conservatives and the moderate progressives will settle down to business as usual. After much worry, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be able to have a good night's sleep. The church is safe.If only it were as simple as that. The deal that the archbishop has brokered with the Episcopal church in New Orleans protects the unity of the church by persuading US bishops that the church is more important than justice. The prophets of the Hebrew scriptures would have been appalled. For all the high-sounding rhetoric about how much they value gay people, the church has once again purchased its togetherness by excluding the outsider. The biblical text that hovers over this whole shoddy deal is John 11:50. As Jesus stands before the court, the high priest Caiaphas persuades the others that for practical reasons he must be got rid of: "You do not understand that it is better to have one man die than to have the whole nation destroyed." And so the deal is done.
OK, so no one has died here. A gay American bishop hasn't been invited to the Lambeth conference, a hugely expensive jolly that brings all the church's bishops to Canterbury once every 10 years. On top of this, the US church has agreed not to make any more bishops if they admit to being gay and having a partner. And they won't do gay blessing services either. Is this really so onerous a set of compromises in order to keep everybody round the same communion table? After all, compared with the desolation and misery that Hurricane Katrina wrought on those who hosted the meeting in New Orleans, ought we not to get a bit more perspective?
No: the struggle for the full inclusion of lesbian and gay people in the life of the church is a frontline battle in the war against global religious fascism.
Robert Mugabe has called homosexuals "worse than dogs and pigs". Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government denies that gay people exist in Iran, and hangs the ones it finds. The Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria thinks homosexuality "evil" and "cancerous". There can be no compromise with any of this, irrespective of whether it is backed up by dodgy readings of holy texts or not.
Which is why the collapse of will in the US House of Bishops is so disappointing. Whatever happened to the spirit of the Boston tea party? One visit from the Archbishop of Canterbury and they get suckered into history worship, falling in line behind the ancient mother church as if they were still suspended on colonial apron strings. Unfortunately, for all its sharp prophetic witness, the Achilles heel of the Episcopal church is its snotty-nosed Anglophilia. Establishment liberals have only so much bottle.
US bishops are now returning to their dioceses with a troubled conscience. Many know that the logic of the New Orleans deal is the logic of unity through exclusion. The church styles itself as not playing by these rules, yet this whole sorry business is as visceral as a group of playground kids coming together to slag off the boy with the unfashionable haircut or funny accent. Finding someone to point the finger at is the best way of bringing people together. Global Christian cohesion is being achieved by a church that is defining itself against some representative other - in this case, a short, rather geeky gay bishop with a bit of a drink problem. He is a scapegoat straight from central casting.
The sad truth is, the issue of homosexuality isn't splitting the Anglican communion: it's uniting it like never before. Before this great global row, we hardly knew each other existed. Anglicans in the pews could hardly care less about Christians in the next door parish, let alone care for those thousands of miles away in Africa or Asia. But as crisis looms, common cause has been achieved. The Rt Rev Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, has brought people together: hands across the ocean, united in homophobia.
It was the Episcopal church that held out longest against unholy unification. But in agreeing to these terms, they too have now bent the knee to the will of the collective bully. The fact that a fringe of rabid evangelicals may now quit the church must not distract from Rowan Williams's achievement in keeping us all together. A crisis has been averted. Gay people remain firmly on the outside; used by the church for vicars and vergers and sacristans, but officially little more than outcasts.
I have never been persuaded that Jesus was gay, as some do believe. But there is no doubt that he too was the outsider, despised and rejected. He also was the victim of official religious persecution. Which is why the other passage that today's Christians ought to give some thought to is the one from St Matthew's gospel that goes: "Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."
Nigerian archbishop blasts Episcopal Church stand
Wed Sep 26, 2007
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A leading conservative critic of the U.S. Episcopal Church said on Wednesday its bishops have turned their back on pleas from global Anglican church leaders to take a clear stand against consecrating gays as bishops or blessing same-sex unions. "Sadly it seems that our hopes were not well-founded and our pleas have once again been ignored," Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria said, responding to a six-day meeting of Episcopal Church bishops that ended a day earlier in New Orleans."Instead of the change of heart (repentance) we sought, what we have been offered is merely a temporary adjustment in an unrelenting determination" to make the rest of the global Anglican Communion, as the worldwide church is called, think the same way as its U.S. branch, Akinola said in a statement issued from his office and circulated to American media.What the Episcopal bishops came up with was not a "whole-hearted embrace of traditional Christian teaching" and it lacked the clarity and unambiguity that he and other leading Anglican bishops had sought from the U.S. church in a statement issued during a meeting earlier this year in Tanzania.
Akinola is a leader of the traditionalists in the "Global South" -- African, Asian and Latin American congregations who make up more than half the world's Anglican followers.The U.S. bishops wound up their meeting on Tuesday promising to urge restraint in elevating gays or lesbians to the position of bishop and said they would not authorize rites to be used for the blessing of same-sex marriages.
The positions did not go far beyond those already taken by the 2.4-million-member U.S. church.
At the Tanzania meeting leading Anglican bishops, or primates, from around the world "requested" that the U.S. branch of the church make it clear by September 30 that it would not ordain another openly gay person as a bishop and would not allow the blessing of same-sex unions. The 2003 Episcopal Church consecration of Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first bishop known to be in an openly gay relationship in more than four centuries of church history, has rent both the U.S. church and the 77-million-member Anglican Communion.NOT BANNEDIn New Orleans the bishops of the U.S. church reaffirmed a resolution passed by its general convention in the summer of 2006 calling on those picking candidates for bishop to choose people who would not offend the wider church, and the bishops said that included gays and lesbians.But there was no outright pledge to ban another consecration of a gay person should one be elected bishop.On the issue of blessing same-sex unions the U.S. bishops said they "pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion ..."They went on to say that such blessings are not happening in a widespread way and that the majority of bishops oppose them. But they did not pledge to ban them.The U.S. bishops also expressed dismay that conservative bishops from Africa and elsewhere -- Akinola among them -- have been visiting in the United States uninvited and installing bishops loyal to their orthodox views.
Muslim cleric 'backs execution of gays'
||A ROW has blown up over a claim a prominent Manchester Muslim has defended the execution of sexually-active gay people as "justified".
Arshad Misbahi, a junior Imam at the city's Central Mosque is alleged to have confirmed that it is an acceptable punishment in Iraq and Iran. His comments are said to have been made to psychotherapist Dr John Casson who is researching the persecution of gays in Islamic states. But they have been condemned as "encouraging conflict between the area's large gay and Muslim communities. Witnesses Dr Casson said: "He told me that in a true Islamic state, such punishments were part of Islam if the person had had a trial, at which four witnesses testified that they had seen the actual homosexual acts." He went on: "I asked him what would be the British Muslim view and he repeated that in an Islamic state these punishments were justified. "They might result in the deaths of thousands, but if this deterred millions from having sex and spreading disease, then it was worthwhile to protect the wider community."It is understood Imam Misbahi believes his comments were taken out of context and misrepresented. He says will be issuing a statement to clarify his views.
|17 Sept 2007
'THE SKY DIDN’T FALL IN'
In any country, bigots must be fought with well-reasoned arguments and reliable research, says Sir Ian McKellen.
By Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop
Newsweek International Sept. 17, 2007 - Sir Ian McKellen has been a vocal gay-rights advocate since making his own homosexuality public in 1988. The following year he cofounded the gay-rights lobbying group Stonewall UK. Best known for his roles in "X-Men" and "The Lord of the Rings," the Oscar nominee was recently in Singapore with the Royal Shakespeare Company, appearing in the title role of "King Lear." He talked to NEWSWEEK's Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop about his lobbying experience in the United Kingdom and in South Africa. Excerpts KOLESNIKOV-JESSOP: In the United Kingdom, attitudes toward homosexuality have changed fairly rapidly recently. In 2000, the British government lifted the ban on lesbian and gay men in the armed forces. In 2001, it lowered the age of consent to 16. And in 2005, it allowed the first civil partnerships to take place. But in many countries around the world, homosexuality is still outlawed. How can similar social changes happen? MCKELLEN: The change happened very quickly in the U.K. once the government was able to say there had been a change in the public mood. Tony Blair's New Labour did not campaign for new legislation. Indeed they defended the status quo until they were told by the European Court of Human Rights to admit gays into the military and to equalize age of consent. Europe was of great help to us. The sky didn't fall in, the die-hards began to look like extremists and the government was emboldened. With the approval of the mainstream press, they felt able to introduce not marriage but the next best thing: civil partnership that the state recognizes. So looking back on his legacy, what Blair can be most proud of is the advancement of gay rights. How do you further change public opinion?
In the U.K. there is still work to be done, particularly in schools, stopping the homophobic bullies in the playground and introducing unbiased discussion on gay issues in the classroom. In countries that need reform, the bigots have to be countered by measured arguments and reliable research so that government can respond to reason and not prejudice. Public figures' coming out and declaring their homosexuality certainly helps the move to change.
What worked in the U.K.?
In any human-rights campaign, everybody must do what they can. I was criticized by some gays as being too soft on the government when I made a private meeting in a very public way with John Major, Blair's predecessor as prime minister. Major was sending signals to his supporters at a time where most gay people, including myself, had stayed very quiet. Some people argued that the best thing was to go to the streets and frighten the horses, disrupt the state opening of Parliament, or interrupt the Archbishop of Canterbury's Sunday sermon. That's not my style: I already have enough theater in my life! But do you think people should be upfront and protest, or take the quiet way?
Both are valid and work well in parallel—think of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. In Singapore, Malcolm X type of activity would be extremely difficult because the government can be very harsh on lawbreakers. I wouldn't presume to tell what people should do. Some argue that some societies, like Singapore's, are too conservative for such changes.
There is nothing special about their situation. We heard it all before: "Gays should respect the views of those who condemn them." "Government is powerless to move until society is ready for change." "The law here that outlaws love between two grown men was left behind by the British." I would have thought any self-respecting ex-colony would want to get rid of the colonizer's laws. When I went to lobby Nelson Mandela while the postapartheid constitution was being drafted, I asked him to endorse making it illegal to discriminate on grounds of sexuality. I'd been warned that he might giggle if I mentioned homosexuality. But he got the point immediately and just said, "Yes, of course." Perhaps a winning slogan might be: "What's good enough for Mandela is good enough for us all." Do you think pragmatism will change the world?
Perhaps. When I went to talk recently to Lehman Brothers in London at a meeting of their LGBT members, the managing director declared that every member of his staff, of whatever sexuality, needs to feel the support of company as a whole. Singapore's current laws would discourage gay foreigners from working there. Maybe big business can help change laws by explaining the problem.
11 Sept 2007
Focus on the Family announced Monday that it is laying off 30 employees and reassigning 15 others.
It also announced that founder James Dobson had been cleared of accusations that he jeopardized the group’s nonprofit status by endorsing Republican candidates. Most of the layoffs are in the organization’s Constituent Response Services department that answers mail and telephone requests. A drop in projected revenue played a part in the layoffs, and the growth of e-mail and Internet-based communications is behind the reassignments, said Gary Schneeberger, vice president of communications. The layoffs are less than 3 percent of the work force of 1,205. After layoffs, 70 employees will remain in Constituent Response Services. Some of the departing employees’ duties will be reassigned. Jim Daly, Focus president and CEO, said that the organization expects to take in about $1 million more than in 2005-06 by the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30 but that the increase doesn’t offset inflation. “Our budget was fairly aggressive. The projected budget was $150 million. It looks like it will come in about $8 million under, at $142 million,” Schneeberger said. Dobson has said on several of his radio shows that donations have been down. Many churches and parachurch organizations are seeing decreases in income, according to Terry Gorka, head administrator at Barna, a California-based research organization that tracks Christian ministries.
The collection plate has been suffering for a number of years and even more so recently as economic woes, including the housing downturn, has hit. While many denominations suggest a 10 percent tithe, in recent years most Americans have given less than 3 percent of their income, a Barna study found. Those leaving Focus will be given packages that include contributions to health care expenses, job-placement assistance and financial compensation. “Organizational change, while healthy and positive, is always difficult when it involves a staff reduction,” Daly said in a news release. “Building flexibility into our internal operations is vital to staying engaged with and relevant to our constituents. The adjustments we’re making this week, though difficult, will allow us to better serve the families that rely on Focus on the Family in the future.” The changes take effect Sept. 21. The nonprofit’s 2007-08 fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Focus is Colorado Springs’ largest evangelical organization, with a worldwide radio program, publications and telephone help for families. The IRS ruled that Dobson was acting as an individual and not on behalf of Focus in his endorsement of political candidates. “We were confident all along that we were within the letter of the law. We were hyper-compliant. There was not one slap on the wrist from the IRS. As a private citizen, he can speak out about what he wants to, and he always made clear he was speaking as a private citizen,” Schneeberger said Monday. Liberal watchdog groups, including Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and Colorado Springsbased Citizens Project, had filed complaints with the IRS in 2005.
|29 Aug 2007
BOISE, Idaho (CNN) -- Sen. Larry Craig, who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after an incident in an airport restroom, is losing support among conservatives and Republicans in his home state of Idaho.
State party officials are standing by Craig in their public comments, but some privately say that the senator is ruined.
One conservative leader, though, was unequivocal: "I believe he should resign because I believe character is an extremely important qualification for public service," said Bryan Fischer of the Idaho Values Alliance. "And I believe the senator, by his own admission, has acknowledged that he has fallen short of the standard that we should expect from public servants."
Craig's term ends next year; he has not announced whether he will seek re-election.
In Washington, Republican colleagues generally are taking a "wait and see" approach.
However, Senate GOP leaders in Washington called Tuesday for an Ethics Committee investigation of the Idaho Republican's June arrest at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Minnesota."He's disappointed the American people," former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, for whose presidential campaign Craig was a Senate liaison, told CNBC on Tuesday night.In his first public statement on the arrest, the lawmaker said he did nothing "inappropriate."
"Let me be clear: I am not gay and never have been," said Craig, who has aligned himself with conservative groups who oppose gay rights.
Since news of his arrest broke, Craig appears to be in deep political trouble.
"I think it's very damaging.
There is a lot of smoke here, and the truth is that in politics, smoke is as deadly as the fire sometimes," said Jennifer Duffy, editor of The Cook Political Report. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told Craig on Tuesday that the leaders of his party were calling for an ethics investigation into what they termed a "serious matter," a Senate Republican leadership aide said.
The aide said one factor in the decision was the arresting officer's assertion that Craig produced a business card identifying himself as a U.S. senator after his arrest and allegedly said, "What do you think about that?" Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, chairwoman of the Ethics Committee, declined to comment on whether an investigation would be conducted. Her office noted the committee's work is generally confidential.
In recent years, Craig's voting record has earned him top ratings from social conservative groups. He has supported a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In 1996, Craig also voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages and prevents states from being forced to recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples legally performed in other states.
Craig also has opposed expanding the federal hate crimes law to cover offenses motivated by anti-gay bias and, in 1996, voted against a bill that would have outlawed employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, which failed by a single vote in the Senate.
|24 Aug 07
||ATLANTA - The minister husband of evangelist and gospel singer Juanita Bynum turned himself in Friday to face charges that he beat her outside a hotel earlier this week. He was later released on bond but ordered to have no contact with his wife.
Thomas W. Weeks III, known to his followers as Bishop Weeks, was accompanied by his lawyer when he surrendered at the Fulton County Jail, said Atlanta Police spokesman James Polite.
Weeks was photographed and fingerprinted, then released on $40,000 bond after a brief hearing with the condition that he have no contact with his wife or her sister. He faces charges of aggravated assault and terroristic threats following a confrontation in which police say he left his estranged wife badly bruised.
Officer Ronald Campbell said earlier this week that during an argument outside a hotel, Weeks choked Bynum, then "pushed her down to the ground and started to kick her and also stomp on her." A hotel employee intervened and pulled Weeks off of her, he said.
Bynum met with authorities Thursday to press the charges against Weeks. In a statement released by her publicist, Bynum said she was recovering from her injuries.
Bynum is a former hairdresser and flight attendant who became a Pentecostal evangelist, author and gospel singer. Her ministry blossomed after she preached at a singles event about breaking free of sexual promiscuity. Among her books are "No More Sheets: The Truth About Sex" and "Matters of the Heart."
Her album "A Piece of My Passion" had been listed in the top 10 gospel albums by Billboard magazine for several months. She also preaches through televised sermons.
Weeks is the founder of Global Destiny churches. The couple married in 2002. Together, they wrote "Teach Me How to Love You: The Beginnings."
12 Aug 2007
Malaysia: First Openly Gay Pastor Holds Controversial Church Service
Updated:2007-08-12 15:31:07 MYT KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Malaysia's first openly gay Christian pastor conducted a controversial worship service Sunday (August 12th), calling on mainstream churches not to discriminate against homosexuals.
Rev. Ouyang Wen Feng _ an ethnic Chinese Malaysian who was ordained a minister in the United States in May _ told a congregation of nearly 80 people, mainly homosexual men and women, to "reclaim our faith and celebrate our sexuality."
"For some of us, especially our gay brothers and sisters, we have experienced firsthand that Christianity has been used to persecute minorities," Ouyang said during the service in a Kuala Lumpur hotel.
Ouyang, 37, has sparked concerns among Malaysian Christian community leaders after he recently declared that he hopes to set up a church in this predominantly Muslim nation, which has large Christian, Buddhist and Hindu minorities.
A church that accepts homosexual relationships would face stiff opposition from both Muslim and Christian conservatives in Malaysia.
Although homosexuality is not specifically a crime in this Southeast Asian country, it is covered under a law prohibiting sodomy, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and whipping."For so long, we've been quiet," Ouyang said Sunday (August 12th). "We've been brought up to believe that they were right and we were wrong. But today, we're making history. We're here to tell Malaysians that we're all children of God."
Ouyang has worked at the Metropolitan Community Church in New York, which tries to serve homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals. He has said he wants to return to Malaysia permanently within the next few years.
Rev. Wong Kin Kong, secretary general of Malaysia's National Evangelical Christian Fellowship, reportedly said last week that Ouyang's plans to preside over a Sunday service and start a church has stirred anxiety "because Christians do not want others to assume they condone such a thing."
Ouyang claimed he and the organizers of his Kuala Lumpur service _ which is considered one of the first steps toward establishing a church _ "received very nasty" phone text messages.
Worshippers at the service, including people from neighboring Singapore, hugged each other and sang hymns with lyrics such as, "With justice as our aim, a queer and righteous people united in Christ's name." Ouyang went to the United States in 1998 and studied sociology and theology. He lives with his partner, an American.
12 Aug 2007
KUALA LUMPUR: Angel Ayala sat in the second row of people, watching with pride as his partner Rev Ou Yang Wen Feng calmly led the faithful through a two-hour Sunday service at a hotel here.
And through it all, Ou Yang, a self-confessed gay pastor knew he was not alone because of Ayala's presence. “He has been very supportive and it was important to know that I was not alone,” Ou Yang said in an interview yesterday after the service attended by about 100 people. He said it was important to show other gay people that it was possible to come out together, and to heterosexuals that gay relationships were not just about sex but about “spiritual and emotional love.”
The pair has been together for four-and-a-half years and hope to marry when same sex marriages are legalised in New York.
Ayala, a finance manager said he supported Ou Yang’s plan to set up a church in Malaysia. Ou Yang, 37, is a Malaysian pastor who serves at the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in New York. He is also currently pursuing his doctorate at Boston University. He hopes to set up an MCC branch here in 2010, before which, friends would help him start a cell group that he said was open to all regardless of their sexual orientation. Earlier during a press conference, Ou Yang, when asked about opposition from other churches in Malaysia, said as a Christian minister, he would pray for them. The service also saw Metropolitan Community Churches founder Bishop Troy D. Perry giving a sermon. Also present was his partner of over 22 years, Phillip De Blieck. Perry said he was thankful for having De Blieck as he was that “special someone” who was there for him through good and bad times. They married under Canadian law at the MCC of Toronto in 2003 and hope to get the marriage recognised by the California State Supreme Court by this year. Perry believed the church would be a blessing for the gay and lesbian communities in Malaysia. He also spoke of his promise to his partner that he would stand by him, when De Blieck was diagnosed with HIV two decades ago. When asked about his former heterosexual marriage and his two sons, Perry said he was in contact with one of his sons and is a grandfather of three. De Blieck, 43, said his “greatest gift” to the world and the church was to always be supportive of Perry’s work. “When I met Troy, I did not know who he was. And I think one reason Troy fell in love with me was because he knew I was interested in him as a person and not the title,” he said.
|10 Aug 2007
KUALA LUMPUR: A controversy has erupted among the Christian community over what they claim is an attempt by a self-confessed gay pastor to set up a church here.
For the past week, protest e-mail and SMSes have been sent to Rev Ou Yang Wen Feng, a Malaysian pastor who serves at the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in New York. He has been back here for about a week. According to the MCC homepage, the church is part of an international movement of Christian churches reaching out to all, including homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals. Ou Yang, 37, has drawn much flak from Christians for his plan to hold a Sunday service at a hotel this week. He came out of the closet about his homosexuality last year and is said to be the first pastor in Malaysia to do so.
A columnist in Sin Chew Daily, Ou Yang went to further his studies in the United States on the daily’s scholarship in the 90s.
When contacted yesterday, Ou Yang said he was merely trying to set up a church “where everybody felt safe and welcomed”. It is unfair to label it a gay church, he said, adding that the hate-mail had hurt him. “This church is not limited to gays but serves all people. This will be an active church. We have so many community-centred plans, such as assisting the poor, charity work and upholding justice,” he said. Ou Yang noted that the New York church served food to 5,000 homeless people and hoped to launch similar programmes here. He plans to return to Malaysia for good in 2010. He credits his former wife for giving him strength to be true to himself, acknowledging that she had endured much anguish during their seven-year, childless union. Asked if his church would solemnise same sex marriages, he replied: “Same sex marriages are illegal in Malaysia, so how can I perform them? However, I will bless the union.” Ou Yang said that his talk in Penang last week received much opposition from “faceless parties”. However, the talk saw a full house of about 200 people instead of the initial estimate of 60. “Many are just curious about me. They ask me many things about homosexuality and my life. They just want to know more and not to be converted by me,” he said. The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Malaysia secretary-general Rev Wong Kin Kong, when contacted, acknowledged the proposed worship on Sunday had sowed anxiety among Christians. “One of the reasons for the emotional reaction is because Christians do not want others to assume they condone such a thing,” said Wong. He added that the churches could not accept Ou Yang’s version of the church because “it is clear that the Bible prohibits a sexual relationship between people of the same sex. If a person condones same sex marriages, it is definitely violating Christian principles.” Wong said the churches had always welcomed all kinds of people, including homosexuals. “It is the deviant sexual behaviour we do not condone. We cannot stop him wanting to set up such a kind of church, but the evangelical churches will inform followers of our stand and advise them not to follow this teaching,” he said.
|23 July 2007
||LONDON (Reuters) - Archbishop of York John Sentamu warned Anglican conservatives on Monday that boycotting a church summit next year means they will effectively expel themselves from the worldwide communion.
American liberals, who sparked the row in the first place by ordaining an openly gay bishop, have locked horns with conservatives from Africa and Asia who represent at least a third of the world's 77 million Anglicans.
Conservatives in the so-called "Global South" signaled after a meeting in London earlier this month that they were unlikely to attend next year's meeting of the Lambeth Conference, the 10-yearly gathering of Anglican leaders."It is impossible for us to see how, without discipline in the communion and without the reconciliation that we urge, we can participate in the proposed conference," they said.
That provoked a sharp response on Monday from Sentamu, one of the closest allies of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the Anglican church."Anglicanism has its roots through Canterbury," Sentamu told The Daily Telegraph.
He warned rebellious conservatives: "If you sever that link you are severing yourself from the communion. There is no doubt about it."
Sentamu, a former judge in Uganda who was forced to flee the Idi Amin regime, said: "I want to warn people -- don't spend the next century trying to find a way back."
"They would be the ones voting with their feet and saying, as far as we are concerned, we are the true Anglicans.
Drawing up the list of Lambeth attendees, Rowan Williams did not invite two American bishops, Gene Robinson and Martyn Minns.
Robinson, who is gay, has caused divisions since he was consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.
The deeply conservative Minns was installed last year as the head of a new Nigerian-based church branch in the United States designed as a refuge for orthodox believers. The Anglican communion does not recognize his position.
Williams has battled -- largely in vain -- to placate the warring camps and bemoaned what many see as an Anglican obsession with sex.
In an interview last month with Time Magazine, Williams said of his church: "It feels very vulnerable and fragile, perhaps more so than it's been for a very long time."
But he still insisted that, despite facing one of the gravest threats in the 450-year-old history of the Anglican Church, "I don't think schism is inevitable."
|18 July 2007
||A gay man has won his case for unlawful discrimination after he was refused a youth official's job by a Church of England bishop.
The employment tribunal said John Reaney, 42, was discriminated against "on grounds of sexual orientation" by the Hereford diocesan board of finance.
Mr Reaney, from Colwyn Bay, Conwy, said he was "delighted" at the decision. The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, said he was "naturally disappointed" and may appeal. During the tribunal in Cardiff in April, Mr Reaney said he was questioned by Bishop Priddis on his previous gay relationship during a two-hour meeting on 19 July 2006 It came after he was told he had emerged as the outstanding candidate for the job during an eight-man interview, the hearing heard. Mr Reaney, whose case was supported by Stonewall, also told the tribunal he was left "very embarrassed and extremely upset" following the meeting and said he felt like "a total waste of space".
During his evidence, Bishop Priddis said he had made clear to Mr Reaney that a person in a committed sexual relationship outside of marriage, whether they were heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or transgender, would be turned down for the post.
But the tribunal found that the bishop should only have considered the present lifestyle of Mr Reaney, who is single, and he should have not questioned his future relationships. Delivering the judgement, the tribunal said the case would now be listed for a remedy hearing. "The respondents discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sexual orientation," said the judgement.
Mr Reaney, who had already worked in two other Anglican dioceses, where he had been praised for his achievements, said he was delighted.
|17 July 2007
||British actor Ian McKellen on Tuesday urged tightly-governed Singapore to loosen up and repeal its archaic laws barring homosexual acts.
The openly gay McKellen indicated the laws, which are remnants of British colonial rule, may affect a vibrant business city like Singapore, which is vying with other Asian cities to draw more foreign talent and professionals.
McKellen was in Singapore as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's world tour to stage William Shakespeare's "King Lear" and Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull" at the Esplanade, Southeast Asia's most modern performing arts centre.
"Just treat us with respect like we treat everybody else and the world will be a better place, I think," McKellen said in a live interview on the Class 95 radio station, part of the state-linked MediaCorp group."Coming to Singapore where unfortunately you've still got those dreadful laws that we British left behind... it's about time Singapore grew up, I think, and realised that gay people are here to stay," he said.
In a separate interview on MediaCorp's Channel News Asia television station, the 68-year-old McKellen said: "I have been looking for a gay bar (in Singapore) if there is such a thing... so that's what I have been looking for."
Homosexual acts are still outlawed in Singapore under laws dating back to British colonial days, despite the city-state's being one of Asia's most advanced economies.
Singapore has in recent years eased social restrictions in a bid to shake off its reputation as a culturally sterile and ultra-conservative society.
|15 July 2007
LOS ANGELES - Hundreds of people who claim they were abused by clergy affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles can expect to be paid more than $1 million each in a $660 million settlement of their lawsuits. The deal, by far the largest settlement in the church's sexual abuse scandal, was reached Saturday, said Ray Boucher, the lead plaintiff's attorney.The archdiocese, America's largest, and the plaintiffs were set to release a statement Sunday morning and hold a news conference Monday, he said.
An anonymous source with knowledge of the deal placed its value at $660 million, by far the largest payout in the church's sexual abuse scandal. The source spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the settlement had not been officially announced.
The amount, which would average a little more than $1.3 million per plaintiff, exceeded earlier reports that the settlement would be between $600 million and $650 million.
Some Roman Catholic orders — the Servites, Claretians and Oblates — will be carved out of the agreement because they refused to participate, the source said. The settlement also calls for the release of confidential priest personnel files after review by a judge assigned to oversee the litigation, Boucher said.
The settlements push the total amount paid out by the U.S. church since 1950 to more than $2 billion, with about a quarter of that coming from the Los Angeles archdiocese.
It wasn't immediately clear how the payout would be split among the insurers, the archdiocese and several Roman Catholic religious orders. A judge must sign off on the agreement.
The release of the priest documents was important to the agreement, Boucher said, because it could reveal whether archdiocesan leaders were involved in covering up for abusive priests."Transparency is a critical part of this and of all resolutions," he said.
Tod Tamberg, a spokesman for the archdiocese, did not immediately return a call seeking comment late Saturday. Previously, he said the church would be in court on Monday.
Plaintiff Steven Sanchez, who was expected to testify in the first trial, said he was simultaneously relieved and disappointed. He sued the archdiocese claiming abuse by the late Rev. Clinton Hagenbach, who died in 1987.
|15 July 2007
A PEOPLE'S Action Party MP yesterday spoke out against the non-review of the law banning homosexual sex.
Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Baey Yam Keng said if it comes to a vote in Parliament, he would say 'yes' to doing away with the law which makes it illegal for men to have sex with other men.
He was joined by Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong who had previously made public his opposition to Section 377A of the Penal Code which bans homosexual sex. Both were members of a forum panel yesterday that included gay activist Alex Au, founder of gay media company Fridae Stuart Koe, and Methodist church leader Reverend Yap Kim Hao. They were discussing the legislation with about 100 participants. When the Home Affairs Ministry proposed changes to the Penal Code last year, it said it would retain the ban on acts of 'gross indecency' between men. One participant, academic Russell Heng, 56, asked Mr Baey for his position if Parliament took a vote on this issue. He said he would vote to repeal the law, a response which drew loud applause. Explaining his stand, Mr Baey drew an analogy between homosexual sex and drinking or smoking. 'There should be a distinction between what the Government wants to discourage, and what it wants to criminalise, ' he said. 'The Government can make it more difficult to access drinking and smoking, but you are still allowed to drink and smoke. So, you can discourage homosexual sex without criminalising it.' He believed the Whip should be lifted if Parliament were to debate this issue. But he conceded that - from his understanding - not many MPs would share his views on decriminalising homosexual sex. Lifting the Whip means MPs can vote according to their convictions, and do not have to toe the party line. But Mr Baey emphasised that he did not think this issue would be decided through public consensus. 'From what I understand of how the Government works, I don't think the Government will make a decision based on a survey...The Government would want to make its own stand and position on issues like this,' he said. Changing the law would require 'some progressive thinking and also people who are able to influence the Cabinet's thinking'. Thus, recent remarks by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew were welcome, he added. 'We should be happy he made those remarks, and that will pave the way for some change in the thinking of the current Government.' In an interview with Berita Harian published two weeks ago, MM Lee said the Government should not act like moral policemen, 'prying on consenting adults'. He also reiterated his view that homosexuals 'were mostly born that way', but also recognised that Singapore is a conservative society and cannot go as far as some countries that recognise gay marriage. Yesterday's forum also touched on issues about the gay community and what the religious view on the matter was. Offering his view, Rev Yap said: 'Contrary to the majority of the Christian views... I personally would call for it to be repealed on the basis that this is God's purpose - the existence of the homosexual community... We know there will always be a proportion of the population, generation after generation, who will be homosexual, and they are created by the heterosexuals. '
|11 July 2007
||WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. David Vitter apologized to anyone he disappointed after telephone records linked him to an escort service operated by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, aka the "D.C. Madam."
The Louisiana Republican said in a Monday statement that he told his wife several years ago about a "serious sin" and she forgave him. "Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there -- with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way," he said.
Vitter's phone number turned up in phone records for Pamela Martin & Associates -- a business Palfrey has called an "erotic fantasy service" -- and Vitter's statement claims he did business with Palfrey's company before he ran for the Senate in 2004. Palfrey's attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, said he was surprised by Vitter's admission "because we don't really know who is on the list."
Vitter, 46, has been serving in Washington since 1999, when he won a special election for a House seat vacated by Rep. Robert Livingston Jr. He was re-elected to the post twice before setting his sights on the Senate.
In 2004, the New Orleans native won the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. John Breaux, making him the first Republican senator from Louisiana since Reconstruction.
A staunch conservative, Vitter disavowed same-sex unions during his 2004 campaign, boasting that he had co-authored and fought for the Federal Marriage Amendment. He further vowed to protect "the sanctity of marriage."
"This is a real outrage. The Hollywood left is redefining the most basic institution in human history, and our two U.S. senators won't do anything about it," he said in a statement on his campaign Web site. "We need a U.S. senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts values
|10 July 2007
||LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy - Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches. Benedict approved a document from his old offices at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that restates church teaching on relations with other Christians. It was the second time in a week the pope has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that modernized the church.
On Saturday, Benedict revisited another key aspect of Vatican II by reviving the old Latin Mass. Traditional Catholics cheered the move, but more liberal ones called it a step back from Vatican II.
Benedict, who attended Vatican II as a young theologian, has long complained about what he considers the erroneous interpretation of the council by liberals, saying it was not a break from the past but rather a renewal of church tradition.
In the latest document — formulated as five questions and answers — the Vatican seeks to set the record straight on Vatican II's ecumenical intent, saying some contemporary theological interpretation had been "erroneous or ambiguous" and had prompted confusion and doubt.
It restates key sections of a 2000 document the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, "Dominus Iesus," which set off a firestorm of criticism among Protestant and other Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation."
In the new document and an accompanying commentary, which were released as the pope vacations here in Italy's Dolomite mountains, the Vatican repeated that position."Christ 'established here on earth' only one church," the document said. The other communities "cannot be called 'churches' in the proper sense" because they do not have apostolic succession — the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ's original apostles.
|05 July 2007
||The head of the Anglican Church in Nigeria says that his 120-plus bishops will boycott next year’s Lambeth Conference unless the US Church halts its liberal agenda.
In an interview with The Times published today, Dr Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria and Archbishop of Abuja, says that he has lost faith that the Episcopal Church of the United States, which precipitated a schism with the ordination of the gay bishop Gene Robinson in 2003, will ever listen to the conservative evangelical leaders of the Global South churches of Africa and Asia. His nearly 130 bishops meet in September to decide whether to attend the conference, the ten-yearly meeting of the Anglican Communion’s 800 bishops. Other provinces in the Global South grouping are also expected to vote soon on whether to boycott Lambeth, in the first formal mark of schism in the Anglican Church. The failure of Nigeria to attend Lambeth would be a severe blow to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who has always said that unity was his priority in trying to resolve the battle between evangelicals and liberals over homosexuality. The Church of England General Synod, which meets this weekend, will debate the new “covenant” drawn up to try to reach worldwide agreement on a common doctrine.
Dr Akinola, who heads the fastest-growing Church in the Anglican Communion, with nearly 20 million practising Anglicans, said that the American Church had failed to act on repeated pleadings from the Church’s 38 primates to halt their agenda. “All we are saying is, do not celebrate what the Bible says is wrong.”
He added: “The Church in the West cannot pull us by the nose. If you are going to interpret the Bible in your own way, good luck to you. But without us.” For Nigeria to attend Lambeth, the Archbishop of Canterbury would also have to invite the English-born bishop Martyn Minns, consecrated by Dr Akinola to serve as a missionary bishop to conservatives in the US. Sources in London told The Times that Bishop Minns would not be invited, even as a guest. In contrast, the same sources said that Bishop Robinson was to be invited in a nonvoting capacity. He will be able to speak at meetings at the conference.
|04 July 2007
||The floods that have devastated swathes of the country are God's judgment on the immorality and greed of modern society, according to senior Church of England bishops.One diocesan bishop has even claimed that laws that have undermined marriage, including the introduction of pro-gay legislation, have provoked God to act by sending the storms that have left thousands of people homeless. While those who have been affected by the storms are innocent victims, the bishops argue controversially that the flooding is a result of Western civilisation's decision to ignore biblical teaching. The Rt Rev Graham Dow, Bishop of Carlisle, argued that the floods are not just a result of a lack of respect for the planet, but also a judgment on society's moral decadence. "This is a strong and definite judgment because the world has been arrogant in going its own way," he said. "We are reaping the consequences of our moral degradation, as well as the environmental damage that we have caused." The bishop, who is a leading evangelical, said that people should heed the stories of the Bible, which described the downfall of the Roman empire as a result of its immorality. "We are in serious moral trouble because every type of lifestyle is now regarded as legitimate," he said.
"In the Bible, institutional power is referred to as 'the beast', which sets itself up to control people and their morals. Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want," he said, adding that the introduction of recent pro-gay laws highlighted its determination to undermine marriage."The sexual orientation regulations [which give greater rights to gays] are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God's judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance."
He expressed his sympathy for those who have been hit by the weather, but said that the problem with "environmental judgment is that it is indiscriminate".
|29 June 2007
Leaders of ex-gay programs apologized to LGBT people in a press
conference and called on other leaders to do the same
By Michelle Garcia.
As the director of an ex-gay ministry in Hayward, Calif., Darlene
Bogle appeared on shows like Sally Jesse Raphael, Jerry Springer,
and 48 Hours to tell people that being gay is "curable." She wrote
several articles and two books—Long Road to Love and Strangers in a
Christian Land—about being an ex-gay and held workshops on the
subject. In 1990, Bogle met Des, who was attending one of her ex-gay
workshops, and sensed instantly that God bought them together.
Within weeks Bogle was asked to step down from her leadership
position at the Foursquare Church and she was removed from the
Exodus ministry. Bogle, joined by former ex-gay ministers Jeremy Marks and Michael
Bussee, held a press conference on June 27 at the Los Angeles Gay
and Lesbian Center with Soulforce and Beyond Ex-Gay to apologize for
exposing LGBT Christians to such indoctrination. The press conference and apology precedes the Ex-Gay Survivor's
Conference in Irvine, Calif., this weekend. Beyond Ex-Gay and
Soulforce partnered with the University of California, Irvine's LGBT
Resource Center to sponsor the conference with workshops, speeches,
and entertainment. "Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the
isolation, shame, fear, and loss of faith that this message
creates," Bussee said, speaking for the group. "We apologize for our
part in the message of broken truth we spoke on behalf of Exodus and
other organizations. " Bussee, the cofounder of Exodus International, said that he was a
devout evangelical who started the ex-gay movement in the 1970s out
of his own self-hate. Eventually he and another cofounder, Gary
Cooper, left the group and their wives to be together and happy. He
has been critical of Exodus ever since. In 1986, Marks became a member of a ministry in the United Kingdom
where he met other gay Christians mired in the same struggle to be
straight. He headed several ex-gay programs, including Courage U.K.,
and later became president of Exodus International Europe. By 2000,
Marks abandoned the ex-gay theories and transformed Courage U.K.
into a gay-affirming evangelical ministry.
|24 June 2007
||Canadian Anglicans voted against blessing same-sex unions late Sunday afternoon.
Church delegates voted on the issue at their general assembly or synod in Winnipeg.
Earlier in the day, delegates voted in favour of a motion decreeing that blessing the unions does not violate core doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada. But another motion, which would have allowed individual dioceses to choose whether to perform the blessing, was rejected by the bishops of the church late Sunday afternoon. Supporters and opponents of same sex blessings called the decisions confusing.
"It is a very confusing message to be sending. It's taking with one hand and giving with the other," said Chris Aimbidge, President of Integrity Canada, a lobby group that supports same-sex blessings.
Cheryl Chang, a spokeswoman for Anglican Essentials, a group lobbying against same-sex blessings, said she believes confused and frustrated parishioners will start finding other churches immediately. "People [will] leave to go to the Catholic church, the Baptist church, the Pentecostal church. That's going to happen starting next Sunday, or next Monday even," Chang said.
"These are decisions that are very confusing for the church, and ultimately, very divisive."
Both resolutions were widely supported by both clergy and laity in Sunday's votes, but needed the support of the bishops in order to pass.
The bishops narrowly accepted the resolution on doctrine by just two votes. However, when it came to allowing same-sex blessing ceremonies, the bishops voted 21 to 19 against the idea.
Though the church hasn't approved the practice, observers say the foundation has been laid for same-sex blessings in Canada.
|14 June 2007
||BOSTON, June 14 — Same-sex marriage will continue to be legal in Massachusetts, after proponents in both houses won a pitched months-long battle on Thursday to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
“In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure,” Gov. Deval Patrick said after the legislature voted 151 to 45 against the amendment, which needed 50 favorable votes to come before voters in a referendum in November 2008.
The vote means that opponents would have to start from Square 1 to sponsor a new amendment, which could not get on the ballot before 2012. Massachusetts is the only state where same-sex marriage is legal, although five states allow civil unions or the equivalent.
Thursday’s victory for same-sex marriage was not a foregone conclusion, especially after the amendment won first-round approval from the previous legislature in January, with 62 lawmakers supporting it.
As late as a couple of hours before the 1 p.m. vote on Thursday, advocates on both sides of the issue said they were not sure of the outcome. The eleventh-hour decisions of several legislators to vote against the amendment followed intensive lobbying by the leaders of the House and Senate and Governor Patrick, who, like most members of the legislature, is a Democrat.
“I think I am going to be doing a certain number of fund-raisers for districts, and I am happy to do that,” said Mr. Patrick, who said he had tried to persuade lawmakers not only that same-sex marriage should be allowed but also that a 2008 referendum would be divisive and distract from other important state issues. About 8,500 same-sex couples have married in Massachusetts since the unions became legal in May 2004. In December 2005, opponents, led by the Massachusetts Family Institute, gathered a record 170,000 signatures for an amendment banning same-sex marriage, a measure that was supported by Mr. Patrick’s predecessor, Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican who is now running for president.
Kris Mineau, president of the institute, did not indicate on Thursday whether opponents would start a new petition drive, but said, “We’re not going away.”
|29 May 2007
||Pro-gay rights attitudes have reached high points this year, according to a new poll, with more Americans expressing tolerance.
Today, 57 percent of the American public believes homosexuality should be sanctioned as an acceptable alternative lifestyle – the highest the Gallup Poll has recorded since 1982. Also indicating higher tolerance, 59 percent of Americans believe homosexual relations should be legal.
The Gallup Poll has recorded a general increase over the past 20 years of those who believe homosexual relations should be legal. The statistic reached an all-time high in May 2003 at 60 percent but then fell to 50 percent in July of that year and has remained level through 2005. A June 2003 Supreme Court decision that struck down a Texas law banning homosexual sodomy appeared to have produced a backlash of public opposition to gay rights, the Gallup report noted. The leveled trend began rising again last year with 56 percent saying homosexual relations should be legal and today, the statistic is nearly at the record 60 percent mark. Revealing a long-term increase in pro-gay rights attitudes, 46 percent (up from 27 percent in 1996) believe same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid with the same rights as traditional marriages. And the percentage of those who say they should not be recognized by the law as valid fell from 68 percent in 1996 to 53 percent today.
On the question of morality, Americans were found to be nearly evenly divided. Since 2001, the percentage of those who say homosexual relations are morally acceptable has increased from 40 percent to 47 percent. And for the first time in the 21st century, less than the majority of Americans say homosexual relations are morally wrong (49 percent). Last year, 51 percent said such relations are morally wrong.
|27 May 2007
SIN Chew Daily and China Press highlighted the ordination of Malaysian Ou Yang Wen Feng as a pastor of Metropolitan Community Church, New York.
China Press reported yesterday that Ou Yang, 37, came out of the closet last year and disclosed that he was gay. He is said to be the first pastor in Malaysia to do so, the daily said.
The daily quoted Ou Yang as saying that it had been his dream to become a pastor one day.
“Since I was 17 years old, I was already preaching in churches,” the daily quoted him as saying. According to Sin Chew Daily, Ou Yang went to further his studies in the United States on the daily's scholarship in the 90s. Ou Yang is a guest columnist at the daily.
|26 May 2007
||Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on Africa's Anglican church to overcome its "obsession" with the issue of gay priests and same-sex marriages.
He said they should spend time on more pressing issues in the region.
Speaking to the BBC World Service, the South African bishop said Zimbabwe, HIV/Aids and the crisis in Darfur were not getting sufficient attention. Zimbabwe's Anglican church also lacked courage to stand up to President Robert Mugabe's regime, he said. 'So many issues' This was the 76-year-old Nobel peace laureate touching raw nerves for the Anglican church in Africa on very sensitive subjects. In his usual forthright manner, Archbishop Tutu told the BBC that the Anglican communion was spending too much of its time and energy on debating differences over gay priests and same sex marriages - a subject, he said, that had now become "an extraordinary obsession". He said: "We've, it seems to me, been fiddling whilst as it were our Rome was burning. At a time when our continent has been groaning under the burden of HIV/Aids, of corruption. "There are so many issues crying out for concern and application by the church of its resources, and here we are, I mean, with this kind of extraordinary obsession."
For Archbishop Tutu, the crisis in Zimbabwe was one such issue that had been eclipsed by the sexuality debate. He said he was saddened by the muted response other African governments had shown to the Mugabe regime. But he also said that leaders of his own Anglican Church in Zimbabwe had failed to show more courage in dealing with the Zimbabwean president. "One seems to have to say they have kow-towed to President Mugabe. Certainly there's not been anything like the same kind of standing up to the evil and exercising the prophetic ministry that one would have expected from the church, and that has been very distressing."There are growing tensions within the worldwide Anglican communion - pitching liberals against conservatives - mainly over the issue of sexuality. But as Archbishop Tutu recognised, there are other points of contention that need to be resolved and other issues that the church, especially in Africa, needs to turn its attention to.
|22 May 2007
||LONDON --Two of the most divisive figures in the U.S. Episcopal Church -- gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson and breakaway Bishop Martyn Minns -- were excluded from the invitation list for the Anglican Communion's global conference next year, the archbishop of Canterbury's office said Tuesday.
Robinson' s consecration in 2003 outraged conservatives in the 77-million-member communion, and Minns' recent consecration to head the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, led by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, reflects the profound divisions tearing at the communion.
Neither was among more 850 Anglican prelates who were sent e-mail invitations Tuesday morning, said Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary-general of the Anglican Communion.
Robinson said the decision was a "great disappointment."
"At a time when the Anglican Communion is calling for a 'listening process' on the issue of homosexuality, how does it make sense to exclude gay and lesbian people from the discussion?" Robinson said in a statement released by his office.
There was no question that Robinson was duly elected and consecrated a bishop according to the rules of the Episcopal Church, Kearon.
"However, for the archbishop to simply give full recognition at this conference would be to ignore the very substantial and very widespread objections in many parts of the communion to his consecration and to his ministry," Kearon said.
Likewise, Minns is recognized as a bishop but his consecration by Akinola earlier this month "is not regular," because it did not conform to the rules of the Anglican province in the United States, Kearon said.
Robinson was the first Anglican bishop to be openly living in a same-sex relationship, and his election in 2003 opened a huge rift between the liberal and conservative wings of the church.
Akinola, the most outspoken of the numerous Anglican critics of Robinson's elevation, presided at Minns' installation as a bishop on May 5 in Woodbridge, Virginia.
|19 May 2007
||A few words about Jerry Falwell's finest hour.
Some would say his life did not produce many such hours but, rather, a surfeit of regrettable ones. Like in 1958 when he preached that God meant black Americans to serve white ones. Like in 1985 when he offered warm support to the apartheid government of South Africa and denounced Bishop Desmond Tutu as a "phony." Like in 1999 when he published an article warning parents that Tinky Winky of the toddlers' show "Teletubbies" was gay. Like in 2001, when he blamed abortion providers, gay rights proponents and the American Civil Liberties Union for the Sept. 11 attacks.
Though seldom as flat-out nutty as Pat Robertson, the Rev. Falwell, who died Tuesday of undetermined causes, nevertheless had an uncanny ability to miss the moment. Time after time when great issues of the day demanded moral leadership, the founder of the Moral Majority proved himself bereft of same.
Which is what makes that finest hour fine.
It happened in 1999 when Falwell and other Christian conservatives met with a group of gay, lesbian and transgendered people of faith. As gay observers condemned the gay delegation for its involvement and his fellow Christians excoriated Falwell for his, the two groups worshipped together and talked.
Falwell and the Rev. Mel White, leader of Soulforce, a group of gay Christian activists, said they organized the meeting out of a sense that the language between them and the groups they represented had become harsh, acrid, unChristian. If they could not change one another's minds, they reasoned, perhaps they could at least change one another's words. In the spirit of the moment, each apologized for hateful language directed at the other. It was a brave and moral moment.
|16 May 2007
||WASHINGTON (AFP) - Jerry Falwell, the outspoken evangelical Christian leader who became a strong but divisive right-wing force in US politics, died Tuesday aged 73, an official at his Liberty University said.
Falwell was found unconscious late Tuesday morning in his office at the university in his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia, the university's executive vice-president Ronald Godwin told a press conference.
The minister's doctor, Carl Moore, said efforts to resuscitate him in his office and later at the hospital were unsuccessful. He said Falwell had a known heart condition and he presumed the death was heart-related.
US President George W. Bush in a statement said he was "deeply saddened" by the death of Falwell, whom he hailed as "a man who cherished faith, family, and freedom."
However, the firebrand preacher was as provocative as he was influential.
Two days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, he blamed them on "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians ... who have tried to secularize America."
Over a long career as a conservative firebrand, Falwell's Christian movement's alliance with Republican conservatives was key to helping elect Ronald Reagan to the presidency twice in the 1980s.
But his reputation was also marked by inflammatory statements against blacks, Muslims, Jews, civil and women's rights activists as well as liberals in general. In 2002 he called the Muslim prophet Mohammed "a terrorist."
Born to a well-off family in Lynchburg, in southwestern Virginia in 1933, Falwell joined the Baptist church in 1952. He was ordained four years later and launched his Thomas Road Baptist Church in a former soft drink bottling plant.
He popularized the church through his television show "The Old Time Gospel Hour," a prototype for modern "televangelism," and its congregation had grown to some 22,000 members in the years before his death.
|13 May 2007
||More than 50 years after the civil-rights movement began, homophobia within historically Black churches remains a concern for many GLBT people of color. The National Black Justice Coalition and other organizations continue to challenge these attitudes through a variety of outreach and educational programs and initiatives.
NBJC announced its second Faithful Call to Justice earlier this year as part of its ongoing efforts to eradicate homophobia from the pulpit. The advocacy organization describes this latest call to action as a "nationwide effort to bring attention to the value and worth of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender congregants as well as HIV/AIDS awareness and stigma."
Faithful Call to Justice will take place early in June at more than 100 churches across the country. NBJC Director of Religious Affairs Dr. Sylvia Rhue said in a recent interview with EDGE this initiative is a direct challenge to the homophobia she said continues to plague the Black church.
"We felt it was high time to acknowledge the spiritual worth of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters," Rhue said. "In many faith communities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are not presented as people to emulate but rather are put down and demonized."
This call to action comes after Bishop Yvette Flunder, senior pastor of the San Francisco-based City of Refuge, and other faith leaders and activists from across the country gathered in Philadelphia to attend the annual Black Church Summit to address homophobia in the Black church. The Rev. Al Sharpton and others have also campaigned against these attitudes in recent years.
|11 May 2007
||SINGAPORE (AP) - A former Methodist bishop has called for greater understanding and respect for gays in Singapore, where recent public debate has questioned whether homosexuality should be decriminalized.
"We know that the differences will exist, we only ... plead for mutual respect and not for condemnation," Rev. Dr. Yap Kim Hao, who in 1968 became the first Asian bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore and Malaysia, said at a Thursday night dialogue on homosexuality and the church. The dialogue, believed to be the first between the mainstream Christian church and the gay community in Singapore, was organized by the gay social outreach arm of the nondenominational Free Community Church. It was attended by more than 350 people, including representatives from major Christian denominations and members of the general public.
The dialogue follows rare public debate about homosexuality in Singapore. Earlier this month, the city-state's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, questioned the country's longtime ban on gay sex, saying the government should not act as moral police. His comments set off debates in newspapers and online forums.
Yap, who is now the Free Community Church's pastoral adviser, has said he believes he has been called by God to minister to gays, and is aware his views conflict with the conservative mainstream church in Singapore."Even though we disagree, we need to respect the humanity," Yap told The Associated Press.
Participants in the forum also discussed interpretations of Biblical references to homosexuality, and how the church can pastor homosexuals. Panelists stressed that the church and policymakers in Singapore must realize there are real people behind the issue.
"At the end of the day, we need to know that there is a human face to all this and then we learn to adapt our strategy differently," said Tan Kim Huat, dean of studies at Singapore's Trinity Theological College.
|10 May 2007
||INDIANAPOLIS -- Jeff Miner is fighting for gay rights the Indiana way -- by citing the Bible.
Miner is pastor of the mostly gay Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, which is turning heads with an outdoor ad campaign that highlights what it contends are gay-friendly Bible verses.
The messages -- such as ''The early church welcomed a gay man. Acts 8:26-40'' and ''David loved Jonathan more than women, II Samuel 1:26'' -- have sparked criticism from religious leaders and conservative groups, who charge the campaign is misleading. Opponents have defaced two billboards.
Miner said the 22 billboards and 2,000 yard signs aim to eliminate scripturally based religious doctrine as an argument against efforts to win civil rights protections for Indiana's gay community. ''Public policy in Indiana won't change unless we talk to people about their core concern, which is what does the Bible say about homosexuality,'' Miner said. His congregation of about 450 people -- one of the largest of more than 300 in the predominantly gay Metropolitan Community Churches -- has gone to the front lines of gay activism since Miner arrived in 1997.
|06 May 2007
||The leader of an American-based gay church last week officiated at the 'renewal of vows' of two middle-aged Jamaican lesbians in Kingston and used the weekly 'church' service to encourage homosexuals here to get out of the closet and stand up for what they believe.
"Staying in the closet never makes us safe," Rev Elder Nancy Wilson, moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), told the congregation of more than 150 gay men and women.
"We are safer in numbers, and the important thing to remember is that MCC will always be behind you," she said to much applause.
During the service, which used the theme 'My Sheep Hear My Voice', Wilson told her flock that Jesus never got angry at people others call sinners, but was the kind of Shepherd who didn't want to lose one sheep.
"No church, no mob, no person can snatch us out of the hands of the beloved," she said, to shouts of 'amen' and 'hallelujah'.
The two women who renewed their vows have been 'married' for two of the five years they have been together, the Sunday Observer was told.
The congregation, which also included children, some as young as seven years old, all cheered as the couple read their vows, promising to love, cherish and be faithful to each other for the rest of their lives.
|04 May 2007
||Under threat of expulsion from the greater Anglican Communion, the Canadian House Of Bishops issued a statement May 2, Recommending that the Anglican Church Of Canada ban the blessing of same-sex unions at its general synod next month in Winnipeg.
The Anglican Church Of Canada has been under pressure to ban same-sex blessings since a meeting of the Anglican Communion, held in Tanzania in February, issued an ultimatum to the US Episcopalian Church demanding it stop blessing gay unions and ordaining gay bishops, or face expulsion.
The Episcopalians represent about 3 million of the world's 80 million Anglicans.
At the centre of the debate in Canada is the Anglican diocese of New Westminster, BC, which has blessed same-sex unions since 2003. The Church Of Canada's general synod, which meets in Winnipeg in June, is set to issue a ruling on whether or not the Anglican priests in Canada will be allowed to bless same-sex unions. The statement from the House Of Bishops is a pre-emptive move, in an effort to influence the synod to rule against same-sex blessings. It recommends that priests be allowed to offer Eucharist and intercessory prayers to gay and lesbian couples, but not full nuptial blessings.
|24 May 2007
NEW YORK (CNN) -- When did it come to the point that being a Christian meant caring about only two issues, abortion and homosexuality? Ask the nonreligious what being a Christian today means, and based on what we see and read, it's a good bet they will say that followers of Jesus Christ are preoccupied with those two points.Poverty? Whatever. Homelessness? An afterthought. A widening gap between the have and have-nots? Immaterial. Divorce? The divorce rate of Christians mirrors the national average, so that's no big deal.The point is that being a Christian should be about more than abortion and homosexuality, and it's high time that those not considered a part of the religious right expose the hypocrisy of our brothers and sisters in Christianity and take back the faith. And those on the left who believe they have a "get out of sin free" card must not be allowed to justify their actions.Many people believe we are engaged in a holy war. And we are. But it's not with Muslims. The real war -- the silent war -- is being engaged among Christians, and that's what we must set our sights on.As we celebrate Holy Week, our focus is on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But aren't we also to recommit ourselves to live more like Jesus? Did Jesus spend his time focusing on all that he didn't like, or did Jesus raise the consciousness of the people to understand love, compassion and teach them about following the will of God?As a layman studying to receive a master's in Christian communications, and the husband of an ordained minister, it's troubling to listen to "Christian radio" and hear the kind of hate spewing out of the mouths of my brothers and sisters in the faith.In fact, I've grown tired of people who pimp God. That's right; we have a litany of individuals today who are holy, holy, holy, sing hallelujah, talk about how they love the Lord, but when it's time to walk the walk, somehow the spirit evaporates.
|28 Apr 2006
|| Today marks 52 years since the process of decriminalising homosexuality began. PinkNews.co.uk takes a look back at over half a century of struggle, despair and adversity.
The Times newspaper reported on April 28 1954 a committee would be set up "to examine the subject of homosexual offences and the parallel problem of the law relying to prostitution and solicitation."
Prior to the 1950s, homosexual activities were a serious criminal offence under the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act which deemed it a 'gross indecency,' punishable by a spell in prison.
In 1953 the trial and eventual imprisonment of Edward Montagu (the 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu), Michael Pitt-Rivers and Peter Wildeblood for committing acts of homosexual indecency caused uproar and led to the establishment of the committee by Home Office minister, Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth.
The Times article said, "There was a warm welcome in the House to-night for this announcement by Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth, Under Secretary, Home Office in reply to an adjournment debate in which Mr Donnelly and Sir Robert Boothby had pressed for a royal commission on the subject."The Under Secretary said that Sir David Maxwell Fyfe was anxious to secure the services of able and experienced men and women to serve upon the committee and it might be some little theme before he was in a position to announce its membership and terms of reference The Home Secretary believed that a thorough investigation by a well qualified body would throw useful. light on the scope and nature of these difficult and controversial problems. and that investigation by such a committee might make a valuable contribution to the problem of how the criminal law should deal with it."
This led to the establishment of the Wolfenden Committee on 24 August 1954 to consider British law relating to homosexual offences. The report was published in 1957, it recommended that "homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence".
It found that "homosexuality cannot legitimately be regarded as a disease, because in many cases it is the only symptom and is compatible with full mental health in other respects". Adding: "The law's function is to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious, and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation and corruption of others. Not, in our view, the function of the law to intervene in the private life of citizens, or to seek to enforce any particular pattern of behaviour."
|22 Apr 2007
||SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's powerful former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, acknowledging the view that some people are genetically destined to be homosexual, has questioned the city-state's ban on sex between men.
"If in fact it is true, and I have asked doctors this, that you are genetically born a homosexual -- because that's the nature of the genetic random transmission of genes -- you can't help it. So why should we criminalize it?" Monday's Straits Times, a pro-government daily, quoted Lee as saying. Under Singapore law, a man who is found to have committed an act of "gross indecency" with another man can be jailed for up to two years, though prosecutions are rare.
But Lee -- who remains the most powerful minister in the cabinet of his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong -- said Singapore should not actively pursue homosexuals who engage in sex.
Lee said that while homosexuality was not widely accepted in Singapore, authorities must take a pragmatic approach.
"Let's not go around like this moral police ... barging into people's rooms. That's not our business," he told a weekend meeting with the youth wing of the People's Action Party, Singapore's ruling political party. In November, the Ministry of Home Affairs said it was considering decriminalizing oral and anal sex between consenting heterosexual adults, but not between homosexuals.
The authorities have banned gay festivals and censored gay films, saying homosexuality should not be advocated as a lifestyle. But, despite the official ban on gay sex, Singapore has a thriving gay scene.
|13 Apr 2007
||Even on American highways crowded with giant family cars, buses are still big enough to make a point. For his acid tour in 1964, Ken Kesey had his Merry Pranksters repaint a 1939 school bus in psychedelic colors with brooms. These days buses are plastic-wrapped with their messages, like giant Twinkies on a mission.
The one driving down Route 7 in Virginia yesterday was purplish on one side and orange sunset on the other. In huge letters it said "Social Justice for Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People." On the highway, fellow drivers either honked and waved or threw Coke cans. In Sioux City, Iowa, someone spray-painted the bus with "Fag, God doesn't love you."
Angel Collie, who always sits halfway back in the bus, keeps the route taped above his window, right over the plastic Jesus and souvenir napkin from Whataburger. (Angel prefers to be referred to as "he," although his mother sometimes forgets and reverts to "she," but "I'm patient," Angel says.) The 25 "equality riders" from a group called Soulforce have roughly followed certain routes of the Freedom Riders who battled Southern segregation in the 1960s. Instead of bus stations and restaurants, they stop at conservative evangelical colleges they say discriminate against homosexuals.
|10 Apr 2007
||CONCORD, N.H. -- V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church's sole openly gay bishop, added his voice to New Hampshire's civil unions debate, saying legalizing same sex unions doesn't threaten religion or families.
Robinson testified at a Senate hearing on civil unions, which passed the House last week. He said he went to the Legislature as a religious leader and a New Hampshire citizen seeking equality for himself and his partner of nearly 20 years. "What we seek in the civil realm is the equal treatment by the state government in supporting this development of our relationship with the legal, financial and societal underpinnings which are afforded married couples at the very moment they say 'I do,"' he said. Church, family and the state collided Tuesday under the Statehouse dome as the Senate took a first look at the bill, which if passed, would make New Hampshire the fourth state to allow gay and lesbian couples to enter civil unions. Canada and Massachusetts allow gay marriage. Vermont, New Jersey and Connecticut provide civil unions. New Hampshire's civil union bill would give same sex couples everything marriage entails, except the word.
|02 Apr 2007
||The Swedish Royal Court has confirmed that it has been receiving abusive faxes from the fanatical Westboro Baptist Church sect.
Led by minister Fred Phelps , the small group's hatred of the royal family and all things Swedish is linked directly to an equally virulent hatred of homosexuals.
Phelps praises homophobic crimes, including murder. When controversial Swedish minister Åke Green was convicted of inciting hatred of homosexuals following an anti-gay sermon, Phelps saw red and turned his attention to Sweden.
"You're doomed to spend eternity in hell," he said. "All you Swedes and your Swedish king and his family."
As part of the campaign Phelps launched the hateful website God Hates Sweden , which attacks the royal family and delights in the loss of Swedish lives in the 2004 tsunami disaster. Princess Madeleine has been the main recipient of the sect's abuse, Expressen reports. "I know that this is happening all the time. There have been strange faxes containing all sorts of terms of abuse," court spokeswoman Nina Eldh told the newspaper.The court's lawyers have so far failed in their atempts to call a halt to the site's anti-Swedish hate campaign.
|28 Mar 2007
Education Minister Yuli Tamir will announce on Wednesday the
ministry's recognition of the Israeli Gay Youth Organization (IGY),
at the organization' s annual fundraising event in Tel Aviv.
The status of IGY, which conducts activities for gay youth and has
some 1,500 members, will be equal to that of other youth movements
and, like them, it will receive government support. The Justice Ministry is expected to approve changes to the education
minister's support regulations, thus enabling IGY to receive funds. Tamir met gay-lesbian community activists several times in recent
months and heard their request to cooperate with the ministry. One of the criteria for receiving state funds is submitting a
membership list to the Education Ministry, including identity
numbers and addresses. However, the regulation was later changed in
view of IGY members' potential fear of disclosing identifying
details. Now it stipulates that when a list of members cannot be
submitted for justified reasons and for special considerations, the
organization would be considered on the basis of other criteria.
|26 Mar 2007
||New York, NY, March 26, 2007 — Following the completion of a thorough and deliberate review process, The Jewish Theological Seminary has decided, effective immediately, to accept qualified gay and lesbian students into its rabbinical and cantorial schools.
The decision comes three months after the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly approved a teshuva (responsum), permitting the ordination of gays and lesbians, thereby paving the way for JTS to consider the issue.
Immediately after these rulings were announced, JTS initiated a comprehensive process in which the views of a wide range of constituencies were solicited and seriously weighed, and likely consequences considered.
The process included faculty forums, student discussions with faculty and administration, meetings and/or lengthy discussions with the heads of the other Conservative Movement seminaries, consultation with the JTS Board of Trustees, and an international survey of Conservative rabbis, cantors, educators, lay leaders, and JTS students on the question.
|26 Mar 2007
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Members of a gay rights group were arrested Monday after staging a sit-in at a Baptist seminary whose president is drawing criticism for his comments on prenatal treatments that would influence a child's sexual orientation.
The group, Soulforce, attempted to meet with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's president, the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., an influential evangelical leader. Twelve were charged with criminal trespassing - a misdemeanor - and booked into jail, Louisville police said. The sit-in in front of Mohler's office lasted about two hours, said Jarrett Lucas, a co-director of a Soulforce tour that is visiting Christian colleges. The group did not contact officials at the private campus in advance of the visit, said Lawrence Smith, the seminary's vice president of communications. Smith said a small group left when they were asked by police to leave, but the others stayed. ``As far as I could tell they were not unruly,'' Smith said. ``It's my understanding that they did not resist arrest, but they refused to leave the campus when they were asked to leave.''
|23 Mar 2007
[Episcopal News Service] In a news conference on March 21 that immediately followed the semi-annual meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops near Houston, Texas, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said that a meeting with Archbishop Rowan Williams and members of the Primates' Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion is crucial in the mind of many bishops. "I think that the bishops of the Episcopal Church very much want Rowan Williams and the members of the Primates' Standing Committee to hear directly from us about our concern for all members of this church, those we agree with theologically and those with whom we disagree, gay and lesbian members of our church and those who find it difficult to countenance blessing unions or ordaining gay and lesbian people. "That the archbishop and the other Primates be invited to hear from us about concerns around polity issues, how this church is governed, that we do not make decisions lightly or easily, but after lengthy conversation and deliberation through a very reasoned process," she said. "I think there is some belief in this House [of Bishops] that other parts of the communion do not understand us very well."
The invitation to Williams and the Primates took the form of a unanimous resolution in which the bishops asked for "three days of prayer and conversation regarding these important matters."
|20 Mar 2007
Gay pastor gets job after all.
The Bishop of Oslo, who's maintained a conservative stand against gay pastors in the state church, has backed down, and now will grant a ministry to a pastor who's living in a gay partnership. Bishop Ole Christian Kvarme's decision earlier this month to deny a pastor's position to Svein G Josefsen sparked wide debate when it became known last week.
It even sparked what newspaper Aftenposten called "a royal dilemma" because both Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit are active supporters of gay rights. As bishop, Kvarme is the royal family's official pastor, but royal protocol doesn't allow them to publicly criticize him.
A professor at the University of Oslo noted that the royals regularly promote a society that includes all aspects of the population. "It's therefore a dilemma when the royal family’s official pastor has a completely view than they do," said Professor Knut Lundby.
|16 Mar 2007
||STOCKHOLM - The Church of Sweden said on Friday it was prepared to perform legally binding wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples if a proposed change to the marriage law in the Nordic country goes through.
The Swedish Lutheran church, which separated from the state in 2000, said it was open to registering same-sex unions, though it wanted to reserve the term matrimony for heterosexual marriages.
The church already performs blessing ceremonies for gay couples who have registered partnerships with civil authorities, but the ceremony does not carry legal status on its own. "The Church of Sweden ... is also prepared to register partnerships in the future," Bishop Claes-Bertil Ytterberg said in a statement.
|14 Mar 2007
||The president of the leading Southern Baptist seminary has incurred sharp attacks from both the left and right by suggesting that a biological basis for homosexuality may be proven, and that prenatal treatment to reverse gay orientation would be biblically justified.
The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., one of the country's pre-eminent evangelical leaders, acknowledged that he irked many fellow conservatives with an article earlier this month saying scientific research "points to some level of biological causation" for homosexuality.
Proof of a biological basis would challenge the belief of many conservative Christians that homosexuality which they view as sinful is a matter of choice that can be overcome through prayer and counseling. However, Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., was assailed even more harshly by gay-rights supporters. They were upset by his assertion that homosexuality would remain a sin even if it were biologically based, and by his support for possible medical treatment that could switch an unborn gay baby's sexual orientation to heterosexual.
"He's willing to play God," said Harry Knox, a spokesman on religious issues for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group. "He's more than willing to let homophobia take over and be the determinant of how he responds to this issue, in spite of everything else he believes about not tinkering with the unborn."
|09 Mar 2007
A leading gay activist in Nigeria has denounced current government efforts to ban homosexuality in the country. For VOA, Gilbert da Costa reports the Nigerian government is facing substantial international pressure over the plan.A controversial bill that would ban homosexuality in Nigeria could become law this month. Among other things, the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2007 assigns a five-year prison term not only for practicing gays, but for those who support them. The legislation has passed two readings in both houses of the National Assembly, and will become law if it passes a third reading and is approved by the president.The Nigerian parliament will go into recess later this month as the country prepares for elections in April.Activists fear politicians will push through the bill to score political points, despite serious concerns about the implications for human rights.Homophobic attacks, intimidation and threats have reportedly increased in Nigeria as a result of the introduction of the legislation in early 2006.Davis Mac-Iyalla is the Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, a gay group that claims 2,000 members. An Anglican, Mac-Iyalla attracted media attention in 2005 when he announced his group. He has since fled Nigeria and on the phone from his temporary home in Lome, the capital of neighboring Togo, he told VOA his fears and anguish over current attempts to ban homosexuality in Nigeria.
|01 Mar 2007
Jesus gives love, respect to same-sex couples,
It seems that some think Christianity and politics go together. While beliefs do fuel political ideals and probably impact which candidate gets the vote of a certain demographic, Jesus was never a political radical as much as he was a social radical. Jesus cared about loving people. That being said, it must be addressed that spiritual ideals have gotten dangerously intertwined with political beliefs. I think that the place where this can most be seen in politics today is with the issue of gay marriage and homosexuality in general. It’s been a controversial topic for a long time, and the issue is split. It’s such a loaded topic that it’s caused arguments and made headlines for years.
Many stories I’ve seen reflect that Christians are often the ones fueling this controversy. I’m not certain why, but for some reason, some Christians see it as their personal mission to explain to the world why two homosexual people should not be able to wed. I cannot understand this position.The issue of gay marriage transcends beliefs about homosexuality, and, in my opinion, right or wrong isn’t a valid argument here. Let me explain why.As Christians, we’re called to be like Jesus who is the epitome of love. For instance, in John 8, a woman is brought before Jesus who was caught in the act of adultery. The religious leaders remind Jesus that the penalty for such an act is death, and they demand that Jesus proclaim the woman’s sentence by consenting to her stoning. Jesus, however, disregards their tradition and acts in love.
|28 Feb 2007
The Church of England was in disarray over homosexuality this evening after the General Synod refused to endorse the bishops' controversial policy on gay "marriages".
The House of Bishops issued pastoral guidance in 2005 saying that gay clergy could enter into civil partnerships, but only if they first assured their bishops that they would abstain from sex. But conservatives and liberals unexpectedly united today to reject a description by the bishops of their guidance as a "balanced and sensitive attempt" to apply Church teaching to civil partnerships. Instead, the Synod supported a motion acknowledging deep splits over the issue and encouraging the bishops to review their policy.The Synod decision will be seen as a slap in the face for the bishops, who presented a unified front in defence of their guidance today even though they are themselves profoundly divided.
But the Synod also rejected criticism of the bishops by conservative evangelicals that their policy undermined heterosexual marriage by effectively condoning gay "marriage".
|27 Feb 2007
Anglicans seem sex obsessed - Archbishop LONDON: People think the Anglican church is obsessed with sex in a battle over homosexuality that "very few really want to be fighting", Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said on Monday. The Anglican communion, a loose federation of 38 national churches, has been split between a liberal minority and a conservative majority, especially since the naming of an openly gay United States bishop in 2003.
|20 Feb 2007
Anglican leaders have issued an ultimatum to the US Church by demanding an end to the appointment of gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex couples. US bishops have until 30 September to respond to the communique, issued after archbishops met in Tanzania. The leaders also announced that the US Episcopal Church must allow members who oppose gay clergy to worship under a newly formed pastoral council.The crisis began when the US Church approved an openly-gay bishop in 2003. Conservative churchgoers were angered by that decision, as they believe homosexuality is contrary to the Church's teachings. However, liberal Anglicans have argued that biblical teachings on justice and inclusion should take precedence. 'Unequivocal covenant' The communique drafted by the archbishops in Tanzania comes after a series of meetings aimed at preventing a worldwide split on the issue. The document calls for the US House of Bishops to "make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions".
|19 Feb 2007
Primates Meeting Communique
The Communiqué of the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam-
19th February 2007
1. We, the Primates and Moderators of the Anglican Communion, gathered for mutual consultation and prayer at Dar es Salaam between 15th and 19th February 2007 at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury and as guests of the Primate of Tanzania, Archbishop Donald Leo Mtetemela. The meeting convened in an atmosphere of mutual graciousness as the Primates sought together to seek the will of God for the future life of the Communion.
|04 Jan 2007
||The outgoing leader of the Anglican Church in Hong Kong has used the opportunity provided by a retirement address to urge dialogue rather than division on issues of sexuality currently raging across the 77 million strong worldwide Anglican Communion. "Anglicanism is inclusive”, 70-year-old Chinese Primate Peter Kwong, who retired on 1 January 2007, stressed, emphasizing the deep historic ad theological roots to its unity-in-diversity. He continued: “There is high church and there is a low church. Anglicans can co-exist and even hold different interpretations of faith… So why shouldn't we find a common ground on homosexuality?"
Kwong has long tried to maintain a central position in the disputes which have followed the election and consecration of an openly gay man, Gene Robinson, to be Bishop of New Hampshire in the USA, and moves towards the blessing of same-sex unions.
In England, 51 clergy have registered civil partnerships under UK legislation which the Church of England, as an established church, has reluctantly been obliged to work with, to the consternation of some conservatives.
Back in 2003, the Most Rev Peter Kwong Kong-Kit told a Hong Kong Island Diocesan conference that the Church had a duty of care and concern towards homosexual persons, whatever their differences of opinion – over which, he declared, there was no simple “right or wrong” answer. He also ventured the opinion that the Anglican Communion could honestly face differences of opinion internally, while maintaining pastoral and ecclesial unity as Christians sharing a common tradition.
“Therefore we can use the term ‘divided but not broken’ to describe the present situation”, he concluded at the time. This is the message he has reiterated upon his retirement this week.
|04 Nov 2006
||COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Saying that he was a “deceiver and liar” who had given in to his dark side, the Rev. Ted Haggard confessed to sexual immorality Sunday in a letter read from the pulpit of the megachurch he founded.
The disgraced former president of the National Evangelical Association, which represents 30 million evangelical Christians, apologized and said “because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn’t want to hurt or disappoint them.”
“The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There’s a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life,” he said.
Haggard, 50, resigned last week as NEA president, where he held sway in Washington and condemned homosexuality, after a man claimed to have had drug-fueled homosexual trysts with him. Haggard also placed himself on administrative leave from the 14,000-member New Life Church, which he founded in the 1980s. Its independent Overseer Board fired him Saturday.
The letter was read to the New Life Church by another clergyman, the Rev. Larry Stockstill, senior pastor of Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker, La., and a member of the board that fired him. Neither Haggard nor his wife, Gayle, attended.
In his letter, Haggard said “the accusations made against me are not all true but enough of them are that I was appropriately removed from his church leadership position.” He did not give details on which accusations were true. Haggard had acknowledged on Friday that he paid Mike Jones of Denver for a massage and for methamphetamine, but said he did not have sex with him and did not take the drug.
|21 Sept 2006
||Christians in Hong Kong are alarmed as the High Court once again turned down the age restriction for homosexual activity of boys and young men Wednesday, after the government appealed the August 2005 ruling. The three judges at the Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that a higher age of consent for homosexuals than for heterosexuals and lesbians was discriminatory and unconstitutional, the Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
The case was originally brought by 21-year-old homosexual William Roy Leung, who tried to strike down the existing law. Currently, men engaging in sexual activity, when one or both males were under the age of 21, could face life-imprisonment. The age of consent for heterosexual or lesbian sexual activity in Hong Kong, however, is 16, therefore some human rights and gay activists have criticized that the law is unfair."No evidence has been placed before us to explain why the minimum age requirement for buggery is 21 whereas as far as sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is concerned, the age of consent is only 16," Chief High Court Judge Geoffrey Ma wrote in his judgment, according to AFP.
It was reported that many human rights activists and male homosexuals hailed the Wednesday’s ruling. Despite the concern of human rights activists, the justification of sexual activities between same-sex people is more of the focused argument for Hong Kong Christians.
||The Episcopal Church U.S.A. has made a dramatic and controversial decision that could split the Anglican Communion.
America's Episcopal Church has made history again – this time by picking a woman as its leading bishop. In 2003 the church rocked the Anglican Communion by appointing a homosexual as a bishop.
Now the question is whether this new choice will create even more problems for the denomination.
In some parts of the world, Episcopalians don't allow women to even be ordained. So it's a huge move on the part of the U.S. Episcopal Church to pick Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as its leading bishop.
Some would even call it confrontational.
This decision comes as more conservative parts of the worldwide Anglican community have demanded that American Episcopalians back off from ordaining homosexual bishops. Also a Vatican leader has warned that ordaining women bishops could endanger efforts at reconciliation between Catholics and Anglicans.
The rise of the 52-year-old Schori could bring both crises to a head.
She voted to affirm the openly homosexual Gene Robinson as a bishop in 2003.
In Nevada, where she's headed up the Episcopal Church for the last five years, she's left it up to individual congregations whether or not they would bless same sex unions.
Schori said, "I believe that God welcomes all to his table. People who agree and disagree, and the Episcopal church has always been a strong voice for including a variety of theologies, a variety of opinions."
|28 June 2006
The Methodist Church will not formally bless same sex Civil Partnerships, although ministers will be allowed to offer informal, private prayers to couples. The Methodist Conference yesterday voted on the report on Pilgrimage of Faith, the Church’s ongoing discussion about human sexuality. After a long and careful debate carried out in a respectful atmosphere, Conference confirmed the statement of good practice issued by the Methodist Council last December. While Methodist ministers may say private prayers with a couple in a Civil Partnership, the Church will not authorise a liturgy for blessing Civil Partnerships, and that Methodist premises cannot be used for any prayers for Civil Partnerships. “As Christians we are naturally keen to mark all of the key moments of life with prayer,” says the Revd Jonathan Kerry, member of the working party and Methodist Co-ordinating Secretary for Worship and Learning. “But earlier Conference resolutions make it clear that we cannot as a Church offer formal blessings for same sex partnerships. This is difficult subject, but we are glad that the debate has been conducted in a supportive and respectful atmosphere.” Conference also passed a resolution confirming that there is no reason why a Methodist cannot enter into a Civil Partnership. But Conference reaffirmed the Church’s traditional teaching that marriage can only take place between a woman and a man, and its requirement that Methodists remain faithful within marriage and chaste without.
|13 mar 2006
||A 32-year-old Kenyan student, angered by a campaign in Cameroon "outing" top personalities for their alleged homosexuality, speaks anonymously to the BBC News website about his struggle to accept his sexuality. When I was as young as 10 or 11 years old I realised that I was drawn more to boys rather than girls. For a good chunk of my post-adolescence years I put it at the back of my head - I switched off that part of my life. I have really struggled to accept my sexuality because I am Christian. A few people do now know that I am gay but I've never come out openly. I told my mother two years ago and more recently my brother and they've accepted it, which is a great relief as there is a great fear when you come out to someone. I'm hoping to tell the rest of my family this year - Africa being Africa people expect you to be at a certain point in your life when you're settled down and married. Although there are laws against sodomy in Kenya, there is a secretive gay scene in Nairobi - certain pubs and clubs. However, because my faith is so pivotal to me, I've chosen to be single and to be celibate. I can't say I've always been successful - I am a human being, not perfect. For the last two years, I've been studying in the UK and the church in the West is a lot more accepting and has taught me to accept myself for who I am. It has been a sense of liberation, not only with the church.
|29 Aug 2006
||Singapore- The bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore was mistakenly overpaid for five years, the church said Wednesday. An internal review found Bishop Robert Solomon's pay and allowances totaled 946,000 Singapore dollars (606,410 US dollars) since he took office in January 2001.
The church's highest office bearer received nearly 372,000 Singapore dollars (238,000 US) more than what he should have. The overpayment was an "honest mistake," The Straits Times quoted a church spokesman as saying. The church is satisfied that no one was lining his "own pockets," he added. Some members are still upset. An anonymous letter was circulated expressing unhappiness that the full sum has not yet been retrieved and that those responsible for the mistake were not asked to resign. The bishop, 50, is in the process of repaying the extra money, used to finance such items as home utility bills and car expenses, according to a report by the church's General Conference Executive Council.
|06 Jan 2006
||NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Lonnie Latham, pastor of South Tulsa Baptist Church in Tulsa, Okla., was arrested the night of Jan. 3 in Oklahoma City for “offering to engage in an act of lewdness” according to charges published in various wire reports.
In an area of the city known for male prostitution, Latham allegedly asked a male undercover police officer to go with him to a local hotel for sex.Television cameras captured him leaving the jail the next day when he stated he “was set up” and was in the area “pastoring to police.”When reached by phone, Latham told Baptist Press that on advice from his attorneys he declined to comment.Latham has been pastor of South Tulsa Baptist Church since 2002. The statistical records available for the SBC show that the church grew in resident members from 995 to 1,571 during his first two years there. Information for 2005 was not available.He also served in various roles within the denomination: as recording secretary for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and by virtue of that office as a member of the state convention’s 64-member executive board and as one of four members representing Oklahoma on the 82-member Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. Both roles required election by messengers from churches, for the BGCO at the 2000 state annual meeting and for the SBC EC at the 2004 national annual meeting.Baptist Press learned from officials of the church, the BGCO and the SBC Executive Committee that Latham has resigned each of his positions.In a letter to the BGCO and an e-mail to the SBC EC, Latham cited “personal reasons” for his resignation. However, in resigning as pastor, he spoke in person to lay leaders and staff at South Tulsa Baptist Church.The church’s minister of administration, Russell Slack, stated that Latham also submitted a letter, but that the contents would not be shared publicly until Sunday with the church body. Slack said that Latham appeared contrite when he presented his resignation.
|20 July, 2005
||TORONTO, Canada (AP) -- Canada legalized gay marriage Wednesday, becoming the world's fourth nation to grant full legal rights to same-sex couples.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin signed the legislation making it law, hours after it was approved by the Senate late Tuesday night despite strong opposition from Conservatives and religious leaders. The bill gives homosexual couples the same rights as those in traditional unions between a man and a woman, something already legal in eight of Canada's 10 provinces and in two of its three territories.
The legislation drafted by Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority Liberal Party government easily passed the Senate, which essentially rubber stamps any bill already passed by the House of Commons, which passed it late last month.
The Netherlands, Belgium and Spain are the only other nations that allow gay marriage nationwide.
The law comes after years of court battles and debate that divided families, religious groups and even political allies. The Roman Catholic Church, the predominant Christian denomination in Canada, has vigorously opposed the legislation.
But Martin, a Roman Catholic, has said that despite anyone's personal beliefs, all Canadians should be granted the same rights to marriage.
Alex Munter, national spokesman for Canadians for Equal Marriage, which has led the debate in favor of the law, was triumphant Wednesday: "It is a signal to the world that Canada is an open and inclusive society that believes in the notion of full citizenship for all."
|15 July 2005
||In a country where homosexual sex is punishable by prison time and the government bans gay-themed parties, the Free Community Church stands out. It is the only place of Christian worship willing to accept gays and lesbians in Singapore. " Each time, God seemed to use the people that didn't fit in to bring salvation," church leader Clarence Singam, who is gay, said at a recent Sunday service. " I wonder how many of you don't fit in, you don't feel comfortable in your skin?" he asked the 100-odd members of the congregation, using John the Baptist as an example of the "odd one out."
The Southeast Asian city-state of 4.2 million considers gay sex as "an act of gross indecency," punishable by a maximum of two years in jail. The country also has banned Asia's largest gay-themed party, Nation '05, from its shores. High-ranking government officials said such same-sex parties may be the reason for rising HIV infections in Singapore.At the Free Community Church, however, the attitude toward sexuality is much different. " At this church, there are no prejudices, no preconceived notions," said Gary Chan, who left his old church when its leaders discovered he was gay and asked him to quit the church band. " Here, we look at people like they're clean sheets of paper," he said.
The status of the church says something about the place of gays and lesbians in Singapore. Though in practice homosexuality is often tolerated, gay sex is illegal here, and gay groups are unable to register as legitimate organizations. The church, however, has managed to circumvent regulations by registering itself as a company, meaning the worship sessions are considered private gatherings. The group has moved several times, meeting in a pub, a theater and now at a low-rise commercial building.Leaders say they still get hate mail. " They say that this church exists that is going out, reaching out, trying to make people gay," said Susan Tang, a married housewife with three children and the only heterosexual on the church council.
Former Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said in a 2003 interview with Time magazine that the straight-laced city-state was now more tolerant of homosexuals and the administration was "not going to chase you all over the place." But Goh, now senior minister, also warned homosexuals in the same interview not to "flaunt your gay rights."
The Free Community Church is not recognized by the influential National Council of Churches in Singapore, which represents Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians, among others. NCSS vice president Robert Solomon said in a statement that "the practice of homosexuality is clearly incompatible with the teachings of the Christian faith." In terms of membership, the church is a mishmash of people from various Christian denominations and its services have elements from several worship styles ---- there's a communion service, and also a Christian rock band, for instance. The congregation has no pastor, so different people preach every week." We cover the whole spectrum," Tang said.
The church's chairwoman, Jean Chong, said the church offers a place for gays and lesbians to finally find acceptance. "It took me a long time to figure out that it's OK to be gay and Christian in Singapore," she said.
28 Apr 2005
||(AP) The United Methodist Church reversed itself Friday, deciding to reinstate a lesbian minister who was defrocked after revealing her relationship with another woman.
A church panel voted 8 to 1 to set aside an earlier decision to defrock Irene "Beth" Stroud for violating the church's ban on openly gay clergy. The Philadelphia minister said she was relieved by the ruling and hopes the church will become more inclusive to people regardless of sexual orientation. After Stroud disclosed the relationship to her congregation two years ago, the church defrocked her, meaning that she could no longer serve communion or baptize anyone. She kept the title of associate minister and worked in a lay capacity at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia. "The church is not free to disregard the standards of justice and inclusiveness that are preached by Jesus Christ ... and are a part of church law," Stroud said after church authorities read their decision at a hotel. "The ruling gives us hope that the United Methodist Church has the resources to do justice," she said.
|30 March 2005
||Singapore - Singapore's information and communications minister has upheld a ban on a planned weekend concert organised by a local gay Christian support group, the media industry regulator said Wednesday.The Media Development Authority (MDA) said Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lee Boon Yang supported its earlier decision to deny a permit for the Affect05 concert scheduled for Sunday, to protect public interest. " The minister has carefully considered the appeal for the licence application for Affect05 and has decided to uphold the MDA's position that such performances that promote alternative lifestyles are against the public interest," MDA said in an e-mail to AFP.
Susan Tang, spokeswoman for the concert organiser Safehaven, said the group was disappointed with the rejection of their appeal. The MDA said last week it turned down Safehaven's application for a permit after reviewing past performances of the main performers, a Los Angeles-based Christian gay couple named Jason and deMarco.
" Based on the duo's website and reports of their performances in the United States, it is assessed that their performance will promote a gay lifestyle which would be against the public interest," the MDA said at that time. Safehaven, which lodged the appeal, has said the aim of the concert was to raise funds for HIV/AIDS sufferers in Singapore and promote awareness of the illness.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is an incurable condition which is passed on by having unprotected sex, among other causes. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Singapore's gay and lesbian community has protested comments earlier this month by a senior health ministry official who said a sharp rise in new HIV infections could have been caused by an annual gay and lesbian party held in the city-state.
The annual Nation Party on Sentosa island is a key date in Asia's gay festival calendar.
A record 311 people in Singapore contracted HIV last year, 28 percent more than in 2003, Senior Minister of State for Health, Balaji Sadasivan said. He said 90 percent of the people who contracted the virus last year were men, a third of them gay. There are now more than 2,000 HIV-infected or confirmed AIDS patients in Singapore, which has a population of about 4.2 million people including resident foreigners.
14 July 2004
The church's services take place beneath two silver disco balls and next to a bar.
Two nude gold mannequin torsos and several furry pink and purple couches have been pushed aside to make way for rows of foldable black chairs.
It's not your traditional house of worship.
This church holds its services in a Tanjong Pagar pub. And it welcomes gay people.
The church has even gone as far as to say that homosexuality is not a sin.
This makes Free Community Church probably the only one in Singapore to accept homosexuality.
Although mainstream churches do accept gay worshippers, their stand on homosexuality is that it is wrong. Said Mrs Susan Tang, a vice-chairman on the church's council 'We have a congregation of about 50 people, of whom about 75 to 80 per cent are gay.
'Our stand is that homosexuality is not a sin, and we welcome gay people to come and worship.'
A check on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore website revealed that the Free Community Church is currently registered as a company. Its members said the church is striving to be accepted as a regular church, and not be labelled a gay church.
Said church-goer Peter Goh, 31, an R&D programmer 'Our church welcomes gay people, but why should it be called a gay church? I would rather call us an all-inclusive church.'
Mrs Tang herself is a straight 48-year-old housewife, who has been happily married for 20 years, and has three children.
She is one of two vice-chairmen of the church council. There are about 10 members in the council.
According to another member, a businessman in his 30s who gave his name only as Eugene, the church gives people an environment to work out the conflicts they may have about being gay and Christian.
'Many gay Christians choose to remain closeted in mainstream churches, for fear of getting blacklisted,' he said.
Said another member, a 40-year-old financial engineer who gave his name only as Tianci 'Many churches believe in 'accepting the sinner, but rejecting the sin'.
'But they expect you to change and become straight, or at least be celibate,' he added.
Tianci revealed that the church was started about 1 1/2 years ago, when one of its original members was expelled from his church for being gay.
He declined to give the name of the church.
With no place to worship, the original member gathered a few gay friends, and they began to meet weekly in one of their homes.
When their number grew to about 10 to 15 in two months through word of mouth, they moved their place of worship to an art gallery.
When they further expanded, they moved to the pub in April this year.
But it won't be their permanent home.
The church requested that the pub not be named.
'The pub location is only temporary, we are still looking for a more suitable place to gather,' said Mr Goh.
He added that the church had managed to rent both venues - the pub and the art gallery - as their members knew the owners of the premises.
The New Paper team attended a service on Sunday, after receiving an e- mail about the church from a mainstream Christian who was uncomfortable with the church.
The e-mail had a link to the church's website, which gave its meeting venue and time. At first, we only had the address of the venue, so we were shocked to discover that it was actually a pub.
There was no sign outside indicating there was a church service being held inside. But once we were seated, several friendly church members approached us on their own to make us feel welcome.
And, once you got over the unusual surroundings, it seemed like any other church.
There was Christian music playing, and several people in prayer. When the service began, it was just like any other service in regular churches. There were hymns, the Holy Communion, and a sermon given by a straight Christian counsellor.Despite its obvious differences in theology from mainstream churches, the Free Community Church, which does not belong to any denomination, says that it is a regular church like any other.But the 'gay factor' has drawn criticism for both the church and outside speakers who come to give talks to the congregation.'Some of our speakers are high-profile in the religious world, so word gets out, and they come under lots of pressure from other Christian organisations not to be associated with us,' said Tianci.He added that the general misconception about the gay community has deepened the prejudice.'Admittedly, some gays do behave irresponsibly. But we want our members to develop respectable lives,' he said.But the speakers are not deterred.Said the Christian counsellor, who declined to be named 'These are fellow imperfect people, so I have no reason to reject them - it's not my job to condemn them.'And that effectively summarises the meaning of the church's name, FREE - First Realise Everyone is Equal.Church-goers say that the church's openness towards not just sexuality, but to all religions and church denominations, has attracted even a few Buddhists to attend the services regularly.Tianci added that the church has faced many struggles, and only wished to worship God in peace.When The New Paper visited the church's website again yesterday, the venue of its services had been removed.
|20 May, 2004
||This week, Massachusetts began handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Amid the cheers, there are the doomsayers who predict that same-sex weddings will mean the end of civilization as we know it. Conservative religious leader James Dobson warns that Massachusetts is issuing "death certificates for the institution of marriage." And conservative pundit Stanley Kurtz claims to have found the "proof" that the institution will see its demise: Gay marriage helped to kill heterosexual marriage in Scandinavia. Indeed, Kurtz has become a key figure in the marriage debate: He and his statistics have been taken up by conservatives to support their argument that gay unions threaten heterosexual marriage. He has shown up in Congressional hearings, lawsuit filings, newspapers, debates, and anti-gay marriage videos across the country. But Kurtz's smoking gun is really just smoke and mirrors. Reports of the death of marriage in Scandinavia are greatly exaggerated; giving gay couples the right to wed did not lead to massive matrimonial flight by heterosexuals. Currently there are nine European countries that give marital rights to gay couples. In Scandinavia, Denmark (1989), Norway (1993), Sweden (1994), and Iceland (1996) pioneered a separate-and-not-quite-equal status for same-sex couples called "registered partnership." (When they register, same-sex couples receive most of the financial and legal rights of marriage, other than the right to marry in a state church and the right to adopt children.) Since 2001, the Netherlands and Belgium have opened marriage to same-sex couples.
Agence France Presse
April 23, 2004
Disgraced priest gets seven years for stealing millions in church funds
A CATHOLIC priest was sentenced to seven-and-half years' jail Friday,23 April, for the "disgraceful" embezzlement of S$5.1 million (US$3.05 million) in church funds.
District judge Jasvender Kaur said Father Joachim Kang, 55, was guilty of "a startling case of dishonesty" and criticised him for showing no remorse for his crimes.
"This was a disgraceful series of offences. It was a blatant and persistent misuse of parish funds in gross breach of trust, and to the acute discomfiture of the Catholic Church," Kaur told the court as she delivered the sentence.Kaur emphasised that Kang never apologised for the thefts, and even his offer to return all the money had come only after a request from the Archdiocese."Here, I do not detect any indication of the accused's remorse or desire to make amends... he is in fact in no position to resist repaying such monies once the offences came to light," Kaur said.Prosecutors had said the priest used the money to buy computers for two "god-daughters" and register an $835,000 apartment with one of them.
The nature of Kang's relationship with the god-daughters have been under scrutiny, with Archbishop Nicholas Chia telling the trial earlier that he was not convinced Kang's activities with them were "consistent" or "consonant" with a god-father, god-daughter relationship. The judge also said Kang's plea that he had left all his worldly possessions to the church "completely lacks merit"."I find it quite invidious for a man who unlawfully deprived the church of its funds... to say that the assets would have been available to the Titular Archbishop upon his death," she said.She said she had taken into account the many letters sent to her from parishioners as well as Archbishop Chia, which asked her for a lenient sentence as Kang was a caring and committed priest.Kang pleaded guilty to six charges of embezzling the money, but only after maintaining his innocence for the first three weeks of his trial until he had secured a deal with prosecutors that lowered his maximum jail term.He had faced a maximum 14 years' jail.He has pledged to return all the money to the church and is selling his two houses in Singapore to do so. He has also promised to sell four properties in Malaysia if necessary.Despite his offences, many parishioners of the Church of St. Theresa, from which Kang stole the funds, were present in court to offer their support.One of them was retired teacher Theresa de Roza, 64, who told reporters outside the courtroom she had not only donated money to the church but also contributed $50,000 to post Kang's bail.She was firm in her stand that Kang did not have to apologise to anyone."I donated the money and I left it in his trust. He could do whatever he wanted with it. Who are we to say he has to apologise," she said."For all you know, he's already apologised to God."
|21 March 2004
||After a three-day trial, a jury of fellow ministers acquitted an Ellensburg, Wash., pastor of violating United Methodist Church law by living openly as a lesbian, saying the church has not clearly declared homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian teaching.
Yesterday's verdict is a milestone for liberals in the church who want to reverse its ban on "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" in the clergy, and it is a defeat for conservatives seeking to hold the line against the gay rights movement in the church and in secular society.
If the Rev. Karen Dammann had been convicted, she could have lost her job as pastor of the 200-member First United Methodist Church in rural Ellensburg and been permanently removed from the ministry.
Methodists on both sides of the issue predicted that the decision would reverberate through the 8.3 million-member denomination, much as the consecration of a gay bishop has embroiled the Episcopal Church in a debate between the authority of scriptural passages that condemn homosexuality and the desire to be an inclusive, tolerant religious community. The not-guilty verdict "will be shocking to most United Methodists, because there is no question about what the Reverend Dammann is doing," said the Rev. James V. Heidinger, president of Good News, a conservative renewal movement in the church. "It was assumed by most of us that we were just going through due process to make sure her rights were protected, but that she obviously was in violation of church law." Dammann had tested the Methodist Church's "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gays in the clergy by writing a Feb. 14, 2001, letter to her bishop saying she was "living in a partnered, covenanted, homosexual relationship.". In a written statement, the jury said it reached its decision "after many hours of painful and prayerful deliberation and listening for and to the word of God." Although it found Dammann to be a "self-avowed practicing homosexual," the jury said it did not have "clear and convincing evidence" that she was guilty of the charge of "practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings." "We searched the discipline and did not find a declaration that 'The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,' " the jury said. "We did see in the discipline many declarative statements. An example is: 'Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the church, the community and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination.' " As a result, the jury had to weigh a series of carefully balanced phrases in the church's legal code, the fruit of many hard-won legislative compromises. On one hand, the church's Book of Discipline says that because "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve" as pastors. On the other hand, it also says that sexuality is "God's good gift to all persons," that homosexuals "are individuals of sacred worth," that "God's grace is available to all," and that "certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons." The jury appears to have been swayed by a key witness for the defense, the Rev. Jack Tuell, a retired bishop of Los Angeles and expert on church law. He traced the history of all these phrases and argued that the General Conference has never been able to reach a definitive position condemning or condoning homosexuality. "I think that really was the turning point in the case," said Dammann's civil attorney, Lindsay Thompson.
18 Nov 2003
||WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court Thursday struck down a Texas state law banning private consensual sex between adults of the same sex in a decision gay rights groups hailed as historic.
The 6-3 decision by the court reverses course from a ruling 17 years ago that states could punish homosexuals for what such laws historically called deviant sex. Legal analysts said the ruling enshrines for the first time a broad constitutional right to sexual privacy, and its impact would reach beyond Texas and 12 other states with similar sodomy laws applied against the gay and lesbian community, and into mainstream America. "The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court's majority. "The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime." As recently as 1960, every state had an anti-sodomy law, according to The Associated Press. In 37 states, the statutes have been repealed by lawmakers or blocked by state courts, the AP reported. Of the 13 states with sodomy laws, four -- Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri -- prohibit oral and anal sex between same-sex couples. The other nine ban consensual sodomy for everyone: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia. Thursday's ruling apparently invalidates those laws, as well. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said the decision appeared to strike down most laws governing private sexual conduct, but he said laws governing marriage would be unaffected. Laws that might be most vulnerable would be ones that govern fornication and adultery, said Diana Hassel, associate professor of law at Roger Williams University. And while Hassel said "only a handful" of states remain still have such laws, Thursday's Supreme Court ruling establishes a benchmark in privacy that had not existed.
Hassel said the ruling, based on due process arguments rather than equal protection laws, would push out new areas in privacy. "This is going to carve out protection for private sexual behavior," Hassel said. "As long as it's between consenting adults, this ruling would appear to cover it."Case stemmed from mistaken arrest
Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer agreed in full with Kennedy's opinion. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor agreed with the final outcome of the case, but did not join the court in reversing the high court's 1986 decision in the similar Georgia case Bowers v. Hardwick.
|03 Nov 2003
||DURHAM, New Hampshire (CNN) -- After months of bitter infighting, the Episcopal Church consecrated Rev. Gene Robinson Sunday as bishop of the New Hampshire Diocese -- the first openly gay man to reach that level in the church hierarchy and in the Anglican community worldwide. "You cannot imagine what an honor it is for you to have called me," Robinson preached afterward, on the verge of crying. But he also noted that many people in the church were in "great pain" because of his promotion. Robinson's selection to be bishop set off anger among church conservatives, who believe that gay and lesbian relationships violate Christian teaching. In a statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rev. Rowan Williams, warned that divisions created by Robinson's consecration would have "very serious consequences for the cohesion of the Anglican Communion." However, at the ceremony, bishops lined up to congratulate Robinson. Only a handful of people demonstrated outside the University of New Hampshire sports arena where the consecration was held. The crowd attending the ceremony at the University of New Hampshire sports arena -- about 4,000-strong, according to The Associated Press -- reacted with laughter when the state's retiring bishop Rev. Douglas Theuner said in his speech that "the disagreement over your election and consecration, Gene, has been labeled by one of your detractors as the defining battle in the war for Anglicanism's soul, the mother of all battles." "But guess what," Theuner said in a speech interrupted often by applause. "It is not... You are no more or less a child of God like everyone else." "What a joy it is to have you here," he said, as many bishops hugged Robinson.
30 Jan 2003
||(AP) Belgium became the second nation in the world to officially recognize gay marriages Thursday, when parliament backed the move with a large majority.
The Netherlands approved same-sex marriages two years ago, but unlike its northern neighbor, Belgium did not go as far to allow such couples to adopt children. The principle of approving gay marriages was already a breakthrough in itself. "It makes it clear that any enduring and loving relationship is appreciated in the same way in our modern society," said Kristien Grauwels, a Green Party legislator. In the House of Representatives, the bill prevailed in a 91-22 vote with nine abstentions, with the opposition Christian Democrat CdH and the extreme right Vlaams Blok voting against. The bill was already approved by the Senate.Belgium already was one of several European nations, including Denmark, Hungary, France and Portugal, which have laws recognizing same-sex unions and granting legal, tax and property rights. Grauwels was disappointed the parties would not back the approval of adoptions for such couples. "It still was a step too far for several parties" in this country, which has a long Roman Catholic tradition, she said. In the Netherlands, one in every 13 same-sex couples, mostly women, have by now adopted children. During the public debate and vote, dozen of lesbian and homosexual couples attended the proceedings, some holding hands as the legislators approved the legislation. Because of international legal constraints it will be tough for Belgians to enter same-sex marriages with foreigners, since only the Netherlands now has a similar system in place. Even Belgian same-sex couples wanting to live abroad could well encouter difficulties, warned Justice Minister Marc Verwilghen. The first such marriages will only be concluded four months after the publication in Belgium's official journal.
|23 July 2002
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Wales, has been officially named to succeed George Carey as the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Reverend Richard Kirker, General Secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM), reflects on what he hopes to see from the new archbishop.
This news is as astonishing as it is welcome. Lesbian and gay Christians have many good reasons to believe that Rowan Williams will be our friend and an unapologetic ally rather in the way that South Africa's inspiring Desmond Tutu has become. For over 20 years Rowan Williams, a noted theologian, academic and author, has eloquently advocated that Christianity and homosexuality should be viewed as wholly consistent with each other. God's gift to human beings includes, for some, homosexuality as well as for others, heterosexuality. To him lesbian and gay people should not be made into a 'problem' nor, of course, should they be stigmatised, demonised or marginalised.
Neither should clergy be expected be celibate just because they are gay or lesbian. These may already seem self-evident truths to most people in Britain and the Western world but sadly, in the Churches and other religious traditions, the opposite is all too common and the new archbishop is not going to find it easy to win over all those who disagree with him on these fundamental matters of doctrine, church order and justice. He has made these points in the way he knows best, as a theologian. This was a radical position to adopt in the 1980's and marked him out as person prepared to put principle before career. His close personal friendships with gay people over 30 years marks him out as the first Archbishop of Canterbury who is entirely at ease, publicly and privately, with a section of society that the Church has often either tried, at best, to ignore or patronise and at worst to openly discriminate against. In fact his integrity and honesty made him deeply unpopular with the leadership of powerful sections of the Church of England - including George Carey - who remain to this day antagonistic towards self-affirming lesbian and gay people as well as towards those who stand with us as friends.
The pastor-evangelist's church and school are trying to survive after he admitted to a moral failure in December
Leaders of Embassy Christian Center scrambled to hold together their Irvine, Calif., charismatic church, an affiliated Bible school and other related ministries after founder and senior pastor Roberts Liardon's mid-December disclosure of his short-term homosexual relationship with the church's youth minister, John Carrette Jr.
About one-fifth of the church members, 37 of the 180 Spirit Life Bible College students and at least four Roberts Liardon Ministries missionaries departed during the first two weeks after the liaison was disclosed.
Calls for restoration have been hampered by charges of betrayal, accusations of spurned counsel and a possible lawsuit initiated by former Bible school students seeking to recoup unused tuition payments. "We have gone through something here that has ripped people apart," Larry Black told about 650 worshipers who gathered at Embassy for a Jan. 6 Sunday morning service. "The enemy is at work. He wants to destroy the leadership, the works of God. This is not just a test for the leadership. This is a test for the people of God," Black said.Black, a minister from Bakersfield, Calif., is filling the pulpit while Liardon, 34, takes a hiatus of at least three months to recover from health problems and to seek counseling from a group of nationally recognized pastors.
In a statement, Liardon told Charisma: "I have voluntarily taken a leave of absence from the ministry for at least three months and have placed myself under pastoral and professional counseling with a team of ministers headed by Charles Nieman and Trevor Yaxley." Nieman is pastor of Abundant Living Faith Center in El Paso, Texas. Yaxley is based in New Zealand. "Roberts Liardon is trying to do the right thing," said Liardon's spokesperson, Lawrence Swicegood of A. Larry Ross and Associates, a public relations agency whose media specializations include "reputation management.""He wants forgiveness," Swicegood said. "He is spending an enormous amount of time in prayer, studying the Bible and [undergoing] counseling, seeking how he can get this horrible thing behind him."Yaxley, who is providing pastoral accountability, said Liardon is responding well to the process of restoration."I'm encouraged. I think Roberts is on his way back," Yaxley said. "He is making good, positive steps. He is not hiding. He is transparent." Yaxley said he plans to make periodic trips to California from his office in Auckland to encourage Liardon. A timetable has not been set for Liardon's return to ministry, but Black declared to the Embassy congregation that it will happen in God's time and that Liardon and the ministry were yet to see their greatest days. "It will be a minimum of three months," Swicegood said of Liardon's sabbatical.
|21 Aug, 2001
||HONG KONG -- A government committee studying the inclusion of gays and lesbians in civil rights laws has been told that "homosexuality is a matter of choice and should not be considered a protected minority." Pastor Daniel Ho Sin-pan of the Kau Yan Church, a fundamentalist Christian church, is leading the battle to prevent the current law from being amended. Ho said the legislation was unjustifiable. "Whether homosexuality is in-born is still a belief, not a proven fact. It is only a selected way of living," he said. "So why should we set up a law to protect a lifestyle?" His attack drew an angry response from Rainbow Fellowship, a religious group for gays and lesbians. Lee Fu-wing, executive officer of Rainbow Fellowship, said Ho's objections were unconscionable. He said protections are needed in housing, education and social policies. Tommy Chen Noel, the head of gay rights group Rainbow Action, presented the committee with a stuffed toy ostrich, which he said represented the Housing Department's head-in-the-sand attitude toward gays. Chen said the department and the Housing Bureau had admitted in a report in June that their policy was discriminatory. "However, the Housing Bureau has no intention of ending the policy," he said.
|24 July 2000
At first blush, California's Proposition 22 appears simple: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," it reads. Yet those 14 words disguise a complex issue, making Prop. 22, as it's known, a hot-button item on the Golden State's crowded March 7 ballot.
Also called the Limit on Marriages initiative, Prop. 22 was written by Republican State Senator William "Pete" Knight as a pre-emptive measure. Though same-sex unions are already illegal in California, supporters say it would "close a legal loophole" requiring the state to recognize gay marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Voters see Prop. 22 as a referendum on gay marriage, and that's just how advocates of the measure hope voters see it.
This week the Protection of Marriage committee unveiled two new television spots. Like prior ads, the Prop. 22 backers don't mention the words "gay" or "lesbian." One ad features a school teacher who says "marriage should be between a man and a woman."
Another shows a woman sorting through her wedding memorabilia, talking sentimentally about the way "marriage has always been." Previous ads have warned voters not to let "judges in other states" decide what constitutes a marriage in California."We are running a positive, pro-family, pro-marriage campaign," says Robert Glazier of the Protection of Marriage Committee.
Glazier insists his group would "never condemn the gay lifestyle," adding "Should gays and lesbians still be protected? Yes."But opponents of the marriage initiative insist the measure will beat back domestic partnership rights"The 'yes' campaign itrying to sugarcoat Prop. 22," says Tracey Conaty, press secretary for an organization opposing the initiative.
This week, Conaty's group is also releasing two new television ads, one of which accuses the bill's sponsor, Rep. Knight, of being anything but pro-family: "The California politician may not like that his son is gay. But he shouldn't make us vote on his private problem."The ads accuse the measure of interfering in people's private lives. And they say the measure will "be used by extremists" to discriminate against gay people.
|23 Oct 1999
Televangelist and long-time gay- rights critic the Rev. Jerry Falwell sat down with a group of gay and lesbian Christians on Saturday, pledging to "look very carefully" at the tone of "what we write and what we say" about homosexuality.
But Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority in the 1970s, insisted that he will not change his stance that living openly as a gay man or lesbian is contrary to the will of God. "I believe the homosexual lifestyle to be wrong," he said. Falwell and 200 fellow conservative Christians met with the Rev. Mel White, an openly gay minister, and about 200 gays and lesbians from 30 states at an anti-violence forum. Before coming out as a gay man, White worked as a ghostwriter for a number of figures on the religious right, including Falwell. "We're listening to each other. I think, down the long road, we're going to be reconciled, and it starts today," White said.
Link between rhetoric, violence explored Gay and lesbian critics have accused Falwell and other conservative Christian leaders of inciting violence against gay men and lesbians through their rhetoric condemning homosexuality. While agreeing to watch the tone of such statements in the future, Falwell downplayed the possibility of any link. "I really don't think I've ever said anything that incensed anyone to go out and create a violent crime," Falwell said. "I think any words in a deranged mind could trigger one to do bad things." Welcoming delegates to the forum, Falwell said, "We are here because innocent people of various faiths, racial and ethnic groups and sexual preferences have increasingly had their lives abruptly and violently ended by people with opposing views." Before the discussions began, the two sides agreed to disagree on whether gay men and lesbians can be good Christians and instead focus on ways of deterring violence against both gays and Christians."I don't mind if Jerry preaches I'm a sinner. He's a sinner, too," White said. "The irony is I think that Mr. Falwell's words could be used to justify hate crimes against us. I also believe a lot of our words could be used to justify hate crimes against him." "I really think we all have to take a good look at what we send out and start changing it for the sake of the greater good."
|25 Sept 1999
Time for a change of heart on gays
Face to Faith
I don't have a tale of emotional trauma at the hands of the Church over being gay. Perhaps it's because I have sufficient self-confidence not to care what others think of me, or perhaps I've been lucky - whatever the reason, the Scottish Episcopal Church has been to me a welcoming and tolerant place, a real family, a word which for many gay and lesbian people is difficult to use. Yet outside the Episcopal Church, and even in some less charitable quarters within it, I am conscious that my sexuality provokes anger, exasperation and uncompromising condemnation. This has always seemed bizarre to me.
There seem to be at least three reasons for this. First, there is in some a deep-seated uncomfortableness with homosexual practice. Second, there is an unwillingness to be seen to compromise with the world's so-called "corrupt" values. Third, and perhaps foremost, there are the problems some people have with the Bible.
Many people are still brought up to consider gay men and lesbians unnatural and perverted. Church teaching, exemplified in its most extreme form by the Roman Catholic view that homosexuality is "objectively disordered", gives credence to these views. It shouldn't surprise us that this kind of prejudice affects established Church doctrine on human sexuality. None of us "does" theology in a vacuum, cut off from our innate beliefs and feelings.
Yet if our sentiments flow from mere irrational loathing, we must confront them, and allow love to break them down. Second, there is a strong tradition of seeing the world as corrupt and the Church as holy. With homosexuality, it still seems to be saying that the world has nothing to teach it. It is not as if the Anglican Communion has failed to move on other areas of deep human intimacy, such as divorce or contraception. In these areas, Church teaching has come to reflect the ethic of its congregations. We are a Church which has accepted that God may reveal greater understanding in science and in ethics through the secular world. Can we not at least explore whether that is true of homosexuality without resorting to the smokescreen that this would be to compromise with the world? Finally, the authority of the Bible. Can we question our accepted traditions at all if they are supported by scriptural authority? Some would say that if scripture is clear, that is an end to the matter. But is there a single Christian in the world who puts this into practice? I have always found it puzzling that gay and lesbian people are continually having passages from the Old Testament Book of Leviticus quoted at them, when the Church disregards most of the rest of the Levitical Code. Similarly, St Paul's injunctions on sexuality are always cited, yet his pronouncements forbidding women from speaking in the congregation and requiring them to cover their heads in worship are flaunted. In relation to the teaching of Jesus, the Church allows practising divorcees among its bishops, when Christ spoke clearly against divorce, but it will not condone homosexual practice, even though Christ said nothing about this at all. What do existing departures from scripture by the Church say about its condemnation of gay and lesbian people for contravening scripture?
|June 22, 1999
NEW YORK (CNN) -- From more socially accepted lifestyles to ending discrimination in the workplace, gay and lesbian rights have come a long way since the June 1969 incident that sparked the gay pride movement.
Commemorating the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, in which gays fought police harassment at New York City's Stonewall Inn, the National Park Service has added the inn and a nearby park to the National Register of Historic Places. President Bill Clinton weighed in to by declaring June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, a White House first. Since 1969, gays and lesbians have made serious in-roads in the economic sector. There are gay financial networks, corporate outreach for gays, major gay magazines with national circulation, and gay police officers. On the social front, many gays and lesbians live openly as couples; some are raising families. "I think we are a community that in some ways is reaching its power," said Paula Ettelbrick with the Empire State Pride Agenda. Barbara Raab, a volunteer with the New York City Gay and Lesbian Community Center agrees. "You can look at every aspect of gay life over the past 30 years," she said. "Things have exploded."
Decades ago, gays had only dark, hidden bars as gathering spots. They lived under the constant the threat of arrest. All that changed on June 11, 1969, when some resisted police demands that they leave the Stonewall Inn.
William Wynkoop remembers hearing the Stonewall uprising unfolding near his bedroom window. "Oh, I think I feel fear now, but not like what we experienced growing up," said Wynkoop, who has been with his partner for 50 years. He might never have imagined that New York would boast a gay and lesbian community center with hundreds of organizations. But gay and lesbian activists contend the movement has a long way to go. "Five states say specifically that gay people are felons or criminals," said Suzanne Goldberg with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. But progress has been made. The bar where police once arrested people for being gay now gives awards to gay and lesbians for their good works. "We as a community and as individuals have moved worlds since then, but there is still a very long way to run," said Raab.
|21 Feb 1988
||1988: TV evangelist quits over sex scandal.
Jimmy Swaggart, America's leading television evangelist, has resigned from his ministry after it was revealed he had been consorting with a prostitute.
In front of a congregation of 7,000 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he sobbed and confessed to "moral failure" without actually going into any detail. I do not plan in any way to whitewash my sin or call it a mistake," he told shocked members of his Family Worship Centre. Turning to his wife, Frances, he said: "I have sinned against you and I beg your forgiveness." Mr Swaggart's confession is all the more scandalous since he himself unleashed fire and brimstone against rival TV evangelist Rev Jim Bakker a few months ago for committing adultery with minister and secretary Jessica Hahn. Rev Bakker was subsequently defrocked and fired from his multi-million-dollar Praise the Lord TV station. This time it was Mr Swaggart's turn to repent after officials from the Assemblies of God church were given photographs showing him taking a prostitute to a Louisiana motel. They were handed in by rival TV evangelist Martin Gorman who was also defrocked after Mr Swaggart accused him of "immoral dalliances" in 1986. Mr Gorman, who ran a successful TV show from New Orleans, had launched an unsuccessful $90m law suit against Mr Swaggart two years ago for spreading false rumours. He also suggested Mr Swaggart was trying to undermine rival TV shows. Big business TV evangelism is certainly a lucrative business. The Jimmy Swaggart Hour is watched by up to two million families and donations raised amount to about $150m a year.
|July 27, 1967
||:The United Kingdom
England and Wales decriminalize private homosexual acts between consenting adult men over the age of 21, except for those in the military and police. Scotland and Northern Ireland would follow in 1980 and 1982, respectively.
Illinois repeals its sodomy laws making it the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize homosexuality between consenting adults in private. The law takes effect in 1962. Connecticut follows in 1969 with the law taking effect in 1971. In the 1970s a rush of other states decriminalize homosexuality including Colorado, Oregon, Ohio, Hawaii, Delaware, New Hampshire, Maine, California, Washington, New Mexico, West Virginia, South Dakota, Indiana, Iowa, Wyoming, North Dakota, Vermont, Arizona, and New Jersey.