Thoughts on Life, Love, Politics, Hypocrisy and Coming Out in Mid-Life
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Gay Mormon Comes Out, Is Excommunicated and Ends Up Commiting Suicide
As long time readers know, during my coming out journey I experienced two serious suicide attempts that put me in the hospital - in one instance for several days. Still, this sad story underscores the responsibility of anti-gay religious denominations in maintaining an atmosphere where the denigration and stigmatizing of LGBT individuals in still socially acceptable. The consequences are indeed deadly. This sad story also reveals the role non-accepting straight spouses can play in pushing their gay spouse towards suicide. Pride in Utah has details on the sad - and needless - death of Bryan Michael Egnew. Here are some highlights:
40 year old Bryan Michael Egnew spent the last decades of his life building up the courage to come out to his family and Mormon church. Once he did his life, family and religion were stripped away from him, and he committed suicide within a matter of weeks.
Growing up in the Mormon (aka LDS) Church as a gay man isn’t easy. The pain and guilt pile-on as for years you are hammered with lessons telling you that unless you live a perfect heterosexual life, marry in a Mormon Temple, and follow the Church’s laws perfectly, you run the risk of never seeing your family again after death. It’s a deep hole that many never escape from.
[L]ast month, Bryan found that courage and came out to his family and his church. The results were tragic. According to Curran, his wife Amy immediately packed up their children and drove them out of state to Tennessee, refusing to let Bryan see them. His parents and family withdrew, and his Church immediately excommunicated him because he refused to denounce his sexual orientation.
[D]espite the thousands of reported suicides among LGBT Mormons the Mormon high-leadership still refuse to put into place any official guidelines or provide training to local leaders on what to do when a person chooses to be honest about themselves. The result is the long trail of suicides of individuals who were left to face the wrath of local prejudices.
Bryan Egnew’s case is made worse by the fact that his family has tried to suppress and hide what happened and who Bryan was since the suicide on September 10th, 2011. His obituary made no reference to the fact that he was gay or the horror that his Church put him through in the last weeks of his life. His Facebook page was scrubbed of any mention of the truth and family members blocked anyone who might tell Bryan’s story.
How long will the Mormon Church continue to let their members die before they decide that LGBT people are worth being treated as equals?
While I grew up Roman Catholic as opposed to Mormon, the Catholic Church hierarchy isn't much better that the Mormon Church when it comes to anti-gay bigotry. And frankly, I cannot help but wonder what Egnew's former wife is thinking now. When she deserted her husband, was she thinking about him or merely about herself? And is she happy that her children now have a significantly higher risk of suicide now that Egnew committed suicide? When is the ignorance and bigotry going to end?
Wingnuts Freak Out That the Gay Culture War is Nearly Lost
Many Christians are only now awakening to the seriousness of the threat to our society posed by the homosexual movement. But, unfortunately for us all, it is only the sounding of the victory trumpets by "gay" activists that has stirred Christians from their slumber. The watchman's walls have been broken and breached, the village is in flames, and triumphal "gay" culture warriors are leading a long string of young prisoners by their necks into the woods. Most disturbingly, many of the captives, including some of the children of these still sleepy-eyed Christian parents, seem happy to go.
I have long warned that the homosexuals agenda is not about tolerance but control. It started, of course, with a plea for tolerance, but then immediately shifted to a demand for acceptance and in due time to celebration of all things "gay."
[T]he agenda continued to unfold to another level, requiring forced participation in "gay" culture. Much of the country is on that cusp of celebration/coercion today, led by California with it's new aggressive K-12 homosexual advocacy curriculum, mandated by law.
That is the end game for the "gays." The final stage of their agenda, which has always been about taking control of things, is the power to punish dissent: to silence or crush their detractors. They only have this level of control in a few places yet, but they are moving fast to achieve it everywhere, and the momentum is on their side. And wherever they have it, they use it.
"Gay marriage," "gay" curriculum, "gay" parades, "gay" TV shows, "gay" soldiers, "gay" adoption, "gay" diseases, "gay" recruitment and on and on. So many seemingly separate issues that are really just one issue: the unnatural, dysfunctional, personally and socially destructive phenomenon of homosexual sin. We are warned clearly and emphatically about it in the Bible. We have seen its corrupting effect in history. And we are literally watching its ethic of sexual anarchy supplant the biblical model of family as the guiding value system of our society.
I'm not saying here that Christians are without hope of overcoming the challenge before us. Nothing, after all, is impossible with God. What I am saying is that we cannot possibly win, especially at this late stage of the game, if our "heroes" continue to fiddle about with the "definition of marriage" and fall all over themselves trying to prove they're not haters by endorsing other, non-marriage-related bits of the "gay" agenda.
We need to stand firmly and unapologetically on the hard truth that homosexuality is not a benign, morally neutral social phenomenon. It is an insidious and contagious form of sexual perversion condemned by God as an abomination.
The homosexual agenda represents an existential threat to Christian civilization and we're in the final phase of the war, losing badly. It all hinges upon you, Christian reader. Either get into the "game" in earnest, immediately, or wave goodbye.
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Obama Faces Challenge in Reengaging Black Voters
When President Obama takes the stage Saturday for his annual address to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, it is certain to be a warm and festive affair, but probably a little less festive and lot more more urgent than on previous occasions.
In the audience will be Rep. Maxine Waters (D), the California congresswoman who has been a lead critic of the president and his administration for not being sufficiently focused on the stubborn problem of black unemployment.
The speech, which the White House says will focus in part on the American Jobs Act, comes as Obama has faced a softening of support among African American voters and a chorus of criticism from black politicians who now feel free to break what had become the eleventh commandment among black elected officials: Thou shall not speak ill of the first black president.
With fourteen months to go before he stands for reelection, Obama has the challenge of reengaging black voters, a crucial part of the coalition that helped him get elected in 2008.
The president’s recent outreach and his jobs bill have muted some of the criticism, but in some ways the criticism itself was a notable political event, reflective of the harsh economic times. Polls show that blacks are more likely than before to say that the country is on the wrong track and are less inclined to have favorable views of Obama.
Campaign aides push back on such polls, citing surveys showing Obama grabbing 90 percent of the black vote when matched with a Republican challenger. But there are concerns about an enthusiasm gap.
Speaking at a CBC jobs fair in Detroit, she urged the audience to “unleash” black elected officials from the unwritten rule of not openly criticizing the president. “It was the women in the audience who were angry, and they were insistent that we do something, that we talk to the president, that we get the president to understand what was happening to them,” she said, recalling the incident during an interview in her, adding that she saw widespread discontent in the cities she visited. “It was a moment where I felt that we had to stop shoving it under the rug.”
[T]he sustained economic downturn has hit blacks hard. The black unemployment rate has ticked up to 15.9 percent on Obama’s watch, up from 11.5 percent when he took office, and blacks have also been hit hard by the housing market collapse.
In coming weeks, the Obama reelection team will bring on an African American vote director charged with mobilizing voters and volunteers, launch a Web page for black voters that deals with Obama’s record on issues that are important to black communities, and begin planning events similar to the African American beauty salons and barbershops programming in 2008.
Are Christians Culpable in Gay Teen Suicides?
If you’re a Christian who believes that being gay is a morally reprehensible offense against God, then you share a mindset, worldview, and moral structure with the kids who hounded Jamey Rodemeyer, literally, to death. It is your ethos, your convictions, and your theology that informed, supported, and encouraged their cruelty.
We Christians who believe that God created gay people as much in His own image as he did straight people are begging you to reconsider your theology — to do nothing more than be open to an alternative, fully credible, scholastically sound interpretation of one or two lines from Paul.
How can you be unwilling to do something so simple, when you see the horrible ultimate cost of that refusal?
Christ died so that you could love more. And now you’re part of a system that allows that same Christ to be used as a moral justification for the most vile kind of abuse. How could that have happened? How could something so right have gone so wrong?
Jamey Rodemeyer has died from your sins.
What is the most disgusting aspect of this tragedy is that those like Maggie Gallagher care nothing about the harm they do or about the lives they destroy. Instead, it's all about the money they are raking in - blood money in amounts that makes the pieces of silver that Judas supposedly was paid look paltry.
The other part of the tragedy that distresses me is the deafening silence that continues to be the norm with the majority of "good" Christians. That silence makes it increasingly difficult for me at times to believe that any good Christians even exist.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Quote of the Day - Andrew Sullivan on the GOP Hatred Towards Gays
This has nothing to do with sex, as Santorum surely knows. And again, the crowd reveals itself as hateful - even when it comes to those serving their country in uniform. This is one core reason why I cannot be a Republican. So many are bigots - and no one - no one - stands up against them. They're a bunch of bullies congratulating themselves on rooting out the queers.
, to Santorum's obsession: the intrinsic evil of gay sex. Again, this is usual. Gays are used to being reduced to sexual acts rather than being seen as full human beings, like straight people, with sexuality sure, but a whole lot of other things as well.
But somehow the fact that these indignities were heaped on a man risking his life to serve this country, a man ballsy enough to make that video, a man in the uniform of the United States ... well, it tells me a couple of things. It tells me that these Republicans don't actually deep down care for the troops, if that means gay troops.
The shocking silence on the stage - the fact that no one challenged this outrage - also tells me that this kind of slur is not regarded as a big deal. . . . . Throughout Republican debates, gays are discussed as if we are never in the audience, never actually part of the society, never fully part of families, never worthy of even a scintilla of respect. When you boo a servicemember solely because he's gay, you are saying he is beneath contempt, that nothing he does or has done can counterweigh the vileness of his sexual orientation.
And then I think of all those gay servicemembers who have died for this country, or been wounded in battle, or been on tours year after year ... and the fury builds..
I have Republican friends who just cannot grasp why I can never again support the Republican Party - or at least until there is a huge turn around in the mindset of not only the Christianist hate merchants in the party but also in those who silently allow the dehumanization of others to go unchallenged. What the far right does to LGBT citizens is in my mind pure evil. And those who are willing to let evil go unchallenged are not those with whom I will associate.
A Sincere Thank You to Readers
Recognizing Bullying in Its Many Forms
THE suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, the 14-year-old boy from western New York who killed himself last Sunday after being tormented by his classmates for being gay, is appalling. His story is a classic case of bullying: he was aggressively and repeatedly victimized. Horrific episodes like this have sparked conversations about cyberbullying and created immense pressure on regulators and educators to do something, anything, to make it stop.
Adults need to start paying attention to the language of youth if they want antibullying interventions to succeed.
Jamey recognized that he was being bullied and asked explicitly for help, but this is not always the case. Many teenagers who are bullied can’t emotionally afford to identify as victims, and young people who bully others rarely see themselves as perpetrators. For a teenager to recognize herself or himself in the adult language of bullying carries social and psychological costs. It requires acknowledging oneself as either powerless or abusive.
In our research over a number of years, we have interviewed and observed teenagers across the United States. . . . . Teenagers repeatedly told us that bullying was something that happened only in elementary or middle school. “There’s no bullying at this school” was a regular refrain.
This didn’t mesh with our observations, so we struggled to understand the disconnect. While teenagers denounced bullying, they — especially girls — would describe a host of interpersonal conflicts playing out in their lives as “drama.”
Teenagers say drama when they want to diminish the importance of something. . . . . Dismissing a conflict that’s really hurting their feelings as drama lets teenagers demonstrate that they don’t care about such petty concerns. They can save face while feeling superior to those tormenting them by dismissing them as desperate for attention. Or, if they’re the instigators, the word drama lets teenagers feel that they’re participating in something innocuous or even funny, rather than having to admit that they’ve hurt someone’s feelings.
And when teenagers like Jamey do ask for help, they’re often let down. Not only are many adults ill-equipped to help teenagers do the psychological work necessary, but teenagers’ social position often requires them to continue facing the same social scene day after day.
Like Jamey, there are young people who identify as victims of bullying. But many youths engaged in practices that adults label bullying do not name them as such. Teenagers want to see themselves as in control of their own lives; their reputations are important. Admitting that they’re being bullied, or worse, that they are bullies, slots them into a narrative that’s disempowering and makes them feel weak and childish.
When teenagers acknowledge that they’re being bullied, adults need to provide programs similar to those that help victims of abuse. And they must recognize that emotional recovery is a long and difficult process.
Interventions must focus on positive concepts like healthy relationships and digital citizenship rather than starting with the negative framing of bullying. The key is to help young people feel independently strong, confident and capable without first requiring them to see themselves as either an oppressed person or an oppressor.
Here in Virginia, there are no effective laws on the books and even watered down policies are rarely enforced - ask Christian Taylor's mother - because The Family Foundation and Christianist organizations demand (and the Republican Party of Virginia supports such demands) free rein to make the lives of LGBT students and adults a living Hell. Yes, better work is needed in working with students to end bullying. Equally important, however, is ending the ongoing message that hating and abusing LGBT individuals is perfectly okay. And this latter effort will require confronting haters in pulpits and "family values" organizations head on.
Another GOP Debate Circus - Audience Boos Gay Soldiers
[T]here’s no headline to be had here. Mitt Romney is easily the best in the field at doing this; he’s really the only one up there who seems even remotely well-cast as a presidential candidate. Of the rest, I suppose Rick Santorum shows pretty good statewide-debate-level chops, and Ron Paul certainly has his Ron Paul thing down cold. The other six are just awful at it.
It’s hard to tell whether these candidates have a basic grasp of policy beyond the most superficial talking points. Both Perry (on his astonishingly bad Pakistan answer) and Romney (on a Romneycare answer) left room for devastating attacks, but no one was either knowledgeable enough to notice or sharp enough to see it and come up with a good line — which left dozens of operatives smacking their heads in frustration.
Did I mention Rick Perry’s answer on Pakistan yet? Asked what he would do in the case of a 3 a.m. phone call saying that the Taliban had control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, Perry’s answer was that, as president, he would have strengthened the U.S. alliance with India … and so he could let India handle it. At least, that’s the closest I could get to understanding it.
Michele Bachmann doesn’t seem even remotely bound by facts, does she?
The ability of these Republican debate crowds to embarrass their party – this time, by booing the gay soldier – continues to be the theme of the debate season. It’s worth noting that, this time and last, it was a handful of people, so it’s even remotely fair to tar the whole party with the actions of a few blowhards, but it really is something, nevertheless.
Remember, the main way these early debates matter is to the extent, if any, that Republican Party actors take them into consideration when making choices. I have no idea what they’re thinking, but it’s hard to imagine that Rick Perry is helping himself so far.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
The Agony of the GOP Establishment
The Republican Establishment finds itself with a problem no party Establishment wants to have. It has a presidential race between a decent candidate, who could probably win the general election but is distrusted by the primary electorate (Mitt Romney), and a candidate perfectly in tune with the primary electorate, who would make for a terrible general-election candidate (Rick Perry). How to steer the voters away from the guy who makes their right-wing hearts flutter, and toward the electable guy?
Today's Quinnipiac poll in the Republican must-win state of Florida casts the party's nightmare in sharp relief. The poll shows Romney leading President Obama 47-40, and Perry trailing him 44-42. But Perry leads Romney in a two-way matchup in the state's nominating primary, 46-38.
This is the dilemma the party elite must navigate. Now here is what compounds the dilemma. If you're a Republican opinion leader, you want to promote Romney over Perry. At the same time, you have to account for the possibility that Perry might win the nomination anyway, which means that you can't say anything that could be used against him in the general election. You need to gently suggest to Republicans that Perry is too crazy to be elected president, without suggesting to swing voters that he's too crazy to be elected president.
Let us observe the efforts of two such party voices today. Karl Rove, in his The Wall Street Journal op-ed column, points out that the candidates leading in the polls in the last GOP primary did not wind up winning.
Meanwhile, conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin gently suggests that Perry's patronage operation in Texas might be a problem. Rubin has a wonderful line: "I understand all too well the inclination among conservatives to shelter Perry from criticism." . . . Rubin's argument, of course, is very careful: Perry must "justify this conduct to a national electorate." In other words, she's not saying he's done anything wrong, only that there's a danger swing voters will believe he's done something wrong. All criticisms must be couched in the subjective, conditional form, so as to avoid subverting what may well be the party standard-bearer.
I sympathize with their agony. They are like parents warning their daughter not to marry the no-good boyfriend — they want to strongly steer her away from a huge mistake, but must also take care not to poison the relationship in case the advice is unheeded. The party Establishment is trying to make itself heard, sotto voce.
Again, the GOP establishment sold the party's soul out of short term opportunism much like a cheap whore might do. Now, they are faced with the less than pretty longer tern consequences. And meanwhile, more thinking Republicans and moderates are fleeing the asylum that is now the GOP.
Police Open Criminal Investigation in Bullying Suicide of Buffalo Gay Teen
Amherst police are investigating whether school bullies could be charged with harassment or hate crimes related to the suicide of Williamsville North High School freshman Jamey Rodemeyer.
Jamey was found dead outside his home Sunday morning after years of complaints by him that he was bullied and subjected to hateful comments in school and online, mostly related to his sexual orientation.
"We're going to look into whether he was the victim of any crimes leading up to his suicide," Police Chief John C. Askey said. "We're not indicating, not speculating at this point, that that is the cause of his death, ... but independently, there may have been crimes that have been committed against him."
"We've heard that there were some specific students, an identifiable group of students, that had specifically targeted Jamey, or had been picking on him for a period of time," Askey said.
While investigators are focusing on what may have transpired in the recent past, he said, police are under the impression that one to three students may have been bothering Jamey since he was a student at Heim Middle School. "We're looking into it to see if he was the victim of any crimes, and that's the bottom line," the chief said.
Jamey's mother had previously told The Buffalo News that she believed that a core group of middle school students bullied her son and that the situation worsened for him about a year ago, when many anonymous posts began showing up on Jamey's Formspring blog stating that he would be better off dead.
She knew about them because guidance counselors at the school had spoken with friends of Jamey who reported the posts. Many of his friends came to his defense on Formspring.
The Police Department's Special Victims Unit is assigned to handle Jamey's case, he said. If there are students who can be criminally prosecuted in Jamey's case, they could face minimum harassment violations. Using a computer to bully someone would elevate the charges to aggravated harassment, he said. And if the bullying centers primarily on Jamey's sexual orientation, then it's possible that hate crime charges could be filed, he said.
It is far past time that bullying be taken seriously and that Christianist endorse and/or generated hate speech be dealt with by police authorities. Freedom of speech ends when its is fostering and creating physical harm and/or the denial of civil rights of others. Personally, I hope that some of the bastards that bullied Rodemeyer literally to death have their sorry asses prosecuted.
Marines Hit the Ground Running in Seeking Gay Recruits
[O]ne of the strangest days in the history of the United States Marine Corps unfolded without the protests and insults that Sergeant Henry had feared. Sergeant Henry, who had been invited to set up a recruiting booth on the first day of the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in downtown Tulsa, instead spent it in quiet conversation with a trickle of gay women who came in to ask about joining the Marines.
“It’s your business and you don’t have to share it,” Sergeant Henry told Ariel Pratt, 20, who asked whether she would face discrimination in the military as a lesbian serving openly. “But you’re also free to be at the mall with your girlfriend.”
The Marines were the service most opposed to ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, but they were the only one of five invited branches of the military to turn up with their recruiting table and chin-up bar at the center Tuesday morning. Although Marines pride themselves on being the most testosterone-fueled of the services, they also ferociously promote their view of themselves as the best. With the law now changed, the Marines appear determined to prove that they will be better than the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard in recruiting gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.
The Marines were at the gay rights center at the invitation of Toby Jenkins, the center’s executive director, who said he saw no better way to celebrate the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in a conservative state that strongly supports the military.
The Marines did in fact think that Mr. Jenkins’s invitation might be a hoax, so they checked him out and talked to their superiors, who talked to their superiors. Then they took a deep breath and decided to go. As the day wore on, the Marines said the bust in recruiting had been made up for in media exposure and public relations. Sergeant Henry and his public affairs officer, Capt. Abraham Sipe, gave interviews at the center with five local television stations, three print reporters and one correspondent for National Public Radio. In between, gay rights supporters stopped by to shake their hands.
By 5 p.m. the Marines had packed up their booth and chin-up bar and headed out, with plans to come back later to attend a panel discussion. It was all uncharted territory. As Sergeant Henry had said the day before of the new world the Marines now inhabit, “At first it’s going to be kind of shock and awe.”
But like a good Marine, he was with the program: “My take is, if they can make it through our boot camp, which is the toughest boot camp in the world, then they ought to have the opportunity to wear the uniform.”
We obviously have a long way to go for full equality, but perhaps we're off to a good start.
Homophobia and Bigotry Are Alive and Well in Elkton, Virginia
Several people in Elkton are trying to change a gay pride event by taking their concerns to the Town Council. However Council Members say they is very little they can do. Dozens of concerned Elkton residents gathered at the community center Monday night. Their concern is not the matter of the gay pride rally itself, the issue is the name "Elkton" being associated with the rally.
Beverly Knight is an Elkton resident who stood up and spoke to Council. Knight says, "I'm not racist, I'm not biased, this is a free country, but we have to be careful as to what we are going to allow attached to our names."
Mayor Roy Davis spoke and said that the town has no patent on the name Elkton and the town council has no control over dictating the name of the rally. Jay Dean is a member of the Town council and says, "This is really not in our hands, we didn't sponsor it. We put up no money for it, we weren't even contacted" Dean says, "They have constitutional rights, we as a governing body cannot interfere with those constitutional rights."
The gay pride event is October 9th and it will be held on Merck property. The company says they are honored to be the organizers of the event.
I hope that those traveling to Harrisonburg or Massanutten will make a point of NOT stopping and spending a dime in Elkton. If the residents want to bigots, that's there right. But it's also the right of travelers to not lend their financial support to the town and its nasty residents.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Obama Supports LGBT Rights in UN Speech - Will the Catholic Church Declare War on Him?
"And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs. . . . . No country should deny people their rights, the freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere."
NY Archbishop Timothy Dolan has sent a letter to President Obama claiming that he is alarmed about recent actions by the President's administration that supposedly "escalate the threat to marriage and imperil the religious freedom of those who promote and defend marriage."
These "threats" named by Dolan are positions made by the Obama Administration to ensure lgbtq equality. They include:
1. The Justice Department no longer defending DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) and raising questions about the law's constitutionality.
2. The Obama Administration supporting the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in foster care and adoption placement
3. Sexual orientation sensitivity training for federal employees
4. The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Dolan claims that these actions undermine what he calls the "natural family:"
In [light] of how the Catholic Church is suspected of funding the National Organization for Marriage - an organization attempting to stomp out marriage equality in all 50 states - and the fact that next year is an election year, one would be dumb no to take Dolan's words as a threat.
I think Dolan is dangerously stuck in the past. We no longer live in the time of the Middle Ages where government decisions had to be agreed upon by the Catholic Church before they are made.
The laws of this country are governed by the Constitution, not papal authority. No one elected Dolan to public office and he has no standing - other than that of an ordinary American citizen - to demand that the President reverse his standing on DOMA or any other law.
Dolan forgets that he does not live a theocracy, but a secular country which is home to many different people with many different religious beliefs. And also different families.
Not every family has the mother and father dynamic but that does not make them inferior to those who do. All families which provide love and support to their children should be embraced and supported. That's the most obscene thing about Dolan's letter. It sends a message to those families in existence who do not embrace the mother and father dynamic that they are inferior.
Personally, I believe that Dolan needs to shut his porcine mouth and stay out of politics. And if he and other bishops fail to do so - and if it turns out that the Catholic Church is bank rolling NOM - then the Church's tax-exempt status needs to be revoked immediately. Just think of the new tax revenues that could go towards deficit reduction without touching tax rates. The GOP ought to love the idea - if, of course, it's serious about deficit reduction.
A U.S. Airman Comes Out to His Dad
No Adam, No Eve, No Gospel - Wingnuts Continue to Freak Out
It’s bad for business, of course. No Adam and Eve means no Fall, which means no Original Sin, which means Jesus doesn’t save us from the horrible fact that we’re living human beings, i.e., cesspools of foulness, et cetera, et cetera; he merely gives ethical advice. Oh … and Holy Men like Albert Mohler don’t have special cosmic insights after all. You can see the problem.
Bob's right, the non-existence of Adam and Eve is VERY, VERY bad for business for institutional Christianity and those who make a living peddling the Christian story. Indeed, the whole story line collapses. And church finances with it. Frankly, I DO find amusement and entertainment it the matter. The anti-gay forces in the last resort only have the Bible as a justification for their anti-gay animus. Obviously, if Genesis is false, then what else in the Bible is false. Perhaps Leviticus, the principal font of anti-gay bigotry/justification? A piece in Christianity Today illustrates some of the varying efforts to dance around this potentially very fatal problem. Here are some highlights:
Now we come to another great moment of tension between Christian readings of Scripture and science. This issue's cover story, "The Search for the Historical Adam," reports the claims of recent genetic research that the human race did not emerge from pre-human animals as a single pair, as an "Adam" and an "Eve." The complexity of the human genome, we are told, requires an original population of around 10,000.
Christians have already drawn the line: there must be an original pair of humans endowed with souls—that is, the spiritual capacity to relate to God in the special way Genesis describes.
What is at stake? First, the entire story of what is wrong with the world hinges on the disobedient exercise of the will by the first humans. The problem with the human race is not its dearth of insight but its misshapen will.
Second, the entire story of salvation hinges on the obedience of the Second Adam. The apostle Paul, the earliest Christian writer to interpret Jesus' work, called Adam "a type of the one who was to come" (Rom. 5:14, ESV), and wrote that "[j]ust as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven [Jesus]" (1 Cor. 15:49, ESV). He elaborated an "Adam Christology" that described a fallen humanity, headed by Adam, and a new, redeemed humanity with Christ as its head.
This understanding, that Christ's obedience undoes Adam's disobedience, is not some late development, but is integrated with the earliest interpretations of what God did and is doing in Christ. This conceptual framework is almost impossible without a first human couple.
[S]ome have suggested—as does John Collins in Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? (Crossway, 2011)—that if both biblical and scientific clues suggest a larger population contemporary with Adam and Eve (Whom did Cain marry? Whom did God protect him from?), we can still conceive of Adam and Eve as leaders of that original population. That suggestion has the virtue of embracing both a prehistoric couple and a prehistoric population.
At this juncture, we counsel patience. We don't need another fundamentalist reaction against science. We need instead a positive interdisciplinary engagement that recognizes the good will of all involved and that creative thinking takes time. In the long run, it may be the humility of our scholars as much as their technical expertise that will bring us to deeper knowledge of the truth.
The reality is that the adherents of Biblical literalism are facing a crisis of enormous proportions. Their whole ball of wax may be about to melt absent some way to use smoke and mirrors to dodge facing the reality that a great deal of the Old Testament simply is either not true at all or has been grossly re-written to meet the needs of revisers over the centuries. I believe that those who believe in rationalism and logic keep up the pressure on far right Christians who may be about to be undone by their own decision to embrace ignorance and reject objective fact and scientific knowledge.
More Batshitery from Justice Clarence Thomas
At a speech to Nebraska law students, Justice Clarence Thomas made a surprising claim — that the Supreme Court has been too activist and should stop second-guessing elected leaders: [Thomas] told the group that the court is being asked to play too big of a role in the nation’s governance. Currently, he said too many of the difficult decisions are being left to the courts to decide. “The really hard calls ought to be made by citizens and their political leaders,” Thomas said.
Thomas is, of course, correct that the current Supreme Court has gone out of its way to undermine democracy. Thomas and his four conservative colleagues destroyed meaningful checks on corporate money in politics. They undermined essential workplace protections enacted by democratically elected officials, and they wholeheartedly endorse a privatized, corporate-owned arbitration system which allows powerful corporations to immunize themselves from countless laws.
Moreover, Justice Thomas is by far the worst offender on the Supreme Court. A 2005 Yale study found that Thomas is more likely to strike down an act of Congress than any other member of the Court. Indeed, if given his way, Thomas would return America to an era when fathers competed with their teenaged children for work and African-Americans could legally be excluded from jobs, hotels, and lunch counters
So Thomas’ claim that “the court is being asked to play too big of a role in the nation’s governance” is quite true — and all that Thomas needs to do to fix this problem is to quit the relentless campaign of judicial activism he began the minute he joined the Supreme Court.
Could all the money Thomas' wife has lapped up from conservative and possibly corporate sources have possibly influenced Thomas' ruling??
God to Rick Perry
Alaska Judge Strikes Down State Tax Law That Discriminates Against Gay Couples
Alaska law permits older married couples to take a property tax deduction that is as much as twice as generous to married couples as it is to unmarried couples who own their home together. Because gay couples are unable to marry in Alaska, this means that people in committed gay relationships are excluded from the favorable tax treatment enjoyed by straight married couples.
Yesterday, however, a trial judge in Anchorage, Alaska struck down this law for violating the Alaska Constitution’s guarantee of that “all persons are equal and entitled to equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law”:
The court finds that the legislation fails to pass even the minimal scrutiny that economic burdens trigger. [...] If the policy underlying the Tax Exemption’s additional benefit to married couples is the recognition that people in long term, committed relationships build their lives together, then there is no reason to distinguish between married couples and couples who would make the marital commitment but for their sexual orientation.
If this decision is upheld on appeal — and there is good reason to believe that it will be — it could have sweeping implications for gay rights in Alaska. Because the court concluded that one anti-gay law does not survive the lowest level of constitutional scrutiny under the state’s constitution, the court’s rationale provides a powerful precedent suggesting that any law that discriminates against gay couples cannot survive scrutiny.
Alaska’s constitution expressly forbids marriage equality — although it does not forbid gay couples from enjoying the package of legal rights normally associated with marriage. Nevertheless, there is nothing in Alaska law that prevents the state courts from recognizing the right of gay couples to join together in civil unions.
Ed Rollins Goes Rogue on Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry
Andrea Mitchell enticed Ed Rollins to go on a tear yesterday, ripping Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), whose campaign he previous ran, as well as Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Not only does he tell us that Bachmann is essentially toast if she doesn’t win Iowa, but he hints that “coming out of the House of Representatives” she hadn't really been prepared for the media scrutiny of a presidential contest. He deemed the ferocious criticism of her “absolutely fair criticism.”
Rollins, not willing merely to undermine his own candidate, also went after Perry, suggesting there are “a lot of things that went on” in Texas and promising that instances of cronyism will be revealed as time goes on. He’s only a bit kinder to Mitt Romney, saying “he’s made the evolution slow but sure to [being] more conservative, to fit the primary voters.
Is there some method to his spasm of criticism or is this simply Rollins popping off? . . . Rollins, despite taking the Bachmann gig, has always been an establishment Republican. He now appears to be offering himself as the town crier, attempting to warn the Republican voters of the dangers that lie ahead in electing either of the candidates who shoot from the hip.
It’s not clear that a majority of GOP primary voters agree with . . . Rollins . . . . . But a Romney advisor may have been right earlier in the summer that Perry’s best day would be the one on which he announced. Since then he’s helped crush Bachmann, but he hasn’t won over the skeptics. Romney may be the beneficiary of this, or Perry’s shortcomings may induce another Republican to get into the race. Stay tuned.
Mainstream Christians Must Stand Up to the Religious Right
In August, fundamentalist preacher Dr. Michael Brown organized a regimen of red shirted Bible-thumpers to infiltrate Charlotte’s gay pride event. Hundreds of zealots confronted and harassed festival attendees with their arrogant slogan “God Has A Better Way.”
The hatred and religious bigotry was appalling, but not surprising. What truly bothers me, however, was the lack of mainstream Christians standing up and speaking out against such fanatical behavior. Virtually every time I write about the Religious Right I’m reminded by the faithful that “not all Christians are like that.”
Of course, this is true and some of the most dedicated activists I have worked with are people of faith. . . . Still, the number of mainstream Christians fighting the hate campaigns of the Religious Right is disappointing. With thousands of churches, millions of members and a vested interest in fighting back against religious extremism, they have consistently underachieved and failed to reach their potential.
What would it look like if mainstream churches fought back against the Religious Right? Picture two hundred of Dr. Brown’s “Red Shirts” smugly descending on innocent families at Charlotte Pride. Out of nowhere, five hundred mainstream, mostly heterosexual Christians appear and surround the theocratic thugs with blue shirts that read: God’s Better Way – Love & Acceptance.”
This lack of coherent opposition has led to a dire situation where Religious Right backed presidential candidates are vying to eliminate or reduce social safety nets, persecute immigrants, undermine working people, shred the middle class, turn the poor into destitute beggars, and roll back minority rights.
This reluctance to stand up and speak out has created a hazardous vacuum where only the shrill and unreasonable voices of fundamentalism are heard. Instead of the dialogue that many progressives of faith claim to desire, this perceived weakness creates a lopsided right wing monologue, which is having a deleterious effect on our nation and the world.
It is time to stand up, speak out, and give voice to our values. If not now, when? Are we going to wait until it is too late and we have lost our country?
If the Religious Right can organize and mobilize to stand up for its beliefs in such a robust manner, why can’t the Religious Left? We desperately need to answer this question before Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin defile America – and permanently define Christianity.
Candidly, I find it increasingly difficult to even go to church since I cannot help but feel that my otherwise accepting fellow parishioners are part of the larger problem. Doing good works while remaining invisible and refusing to challenge evil - and I do see the Christianists as evil - is empowering the enemies of freedom and the true Gospel message.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
DADT Repeal Celebration - Personal Reflections
This evening the boyfriend and I attended the local celebration of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, at Waterside on the downtown Norfolk waterfront fittingly across the water from shipyards working on several U.S. Navy vessels sitting in dry dock. I'm not the best judge of crowds, but I'd venture that there were several hundred people in attendance.The principal speakers were Tracy Thorne-Begland who made waves and appeared on national news programs back in the early 1990's, former Congressman Glenn Nye who voted for DADT repeal and Eric Fanning, Deputy Under Secretary for the Navy.
I welcome the demise of the religious based bigotry that DADT enshrined. But much needs to be done. Far too many LGBT Americans remain third or fourth class citizens in their own home states and we do not enjoy full equality under the federal laws either. All so that self-enriching whores of the professional Christian set can enjoy a financially comfortable life from peddling hatred and division and so that the psychologically warped can feel better about themselves by discriminating against gay and lesbian Americans. The sickness of religious based discrimination needs to be eradicated and religion needs to be driven out of the civil laws once and for all. Likewise, the deference (dare I say special rights?) given to religion - be it in the form of DOMA, Virginia's anti-gay constitutional amendment or other forms - a force that has ruined and/or resulted in the slaughter of millions of lives over the centuries needs to end NOW.