All posts by Terence

Readings: Who Is This Woman?

Do they know who she is?” My friend, a strongly committed Catholic law professor from the Midwest, almost burst out as we strode down 10th Ave. last night on the way to dinner. Did they know she is one of the most influential and most respected intellectual leaders in the America church? Do they realize the effect it has among enlightened Catholics when a condemnation comes out of the blue from Rome, when the target is revered by a network of students and professors from Africa to here? Especially in the wake of the feedback to the knuckle-rappng delivered to America nuns.

The she of course is Sister of Mercy Margaret Farley, former professor at the Yale Divinity School and author of Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (Continuum, 2006), whose book, as reported in the New York Times (June 5) and National Catholic Reporter, has been denounced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as “not consistent with authentic Catholic theology and should not be used by Roman Catholics.” Their argument is that the theology of the book does not conform strictly with the theology of the magisterium. Farley would reply that she does not purport to present strictly Catholic theology, but to employ years of social and cultural, as well as Christian theological, research in order to strengthen the marital commitment by applying principles of justice.

America magazine

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Minnesota moving against marriage ban

Minnesota moving ainst marriage ban

Minnesota’s constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage now appears to be in serious danger of failing, a reversal from a PPP poll four months ago when it led for passage by a 48/44 margin.

Now only 43% of voters support the proposed amendment, with 49% of voters opposed to it. The shift since then has come with independent voters. After previously supporting the amendment by a 50/40 spread, they’re now opposing it 54/37. Republicans continue to strongly favor the amendment (74/21) while Democrats are almost equally strong in their opposition (71/22).

Independents coming a lot closer to Democrats than Republicans on gay rights is becoming something of a constant in our polling. The GOP seriously risks antagonizing voters in the middle if it continues to pursue a far right social agenda.

 – Public Policy Polling.

Minnesota sees the same massive generational gap on this issue that we’ve found in other states. Voters over 45 support the proposed amendment by a 50/42 spread. But those under 45 oppose it by an even greater 60/34 margin.

Voters in the state think gay marriage should be legal by a 47/42 margin, closely matching the numbers on the amendment. And when you expand the discussion to civil unions 75% of voters support some form of legal recognition for gay couples to only 21% who think there should be none. That includes even 55% of Republicans.

Republicans are headed for better news with their proposed amendment to require voters to show a photo identification when they go to cast their ballots. 58% of voters support that with 34% opposed. Republicans (84/10) are almost unanimously supportive of it and independents (58/35) strongly favor it as well. Democrats are opposed (36/54) but not to a large enough extent to come anywhere close to defeating the amendment.

Mark Dayton’s still winning the battle of public opinion when it comes to state politics. He has a solid 49/36 approval rating. Meanwhile the Republicans in the legislature have just a 21% approval rating, with 61% of voters disapproving of them. That includes a 12/66 spread with independents. Democrats are strongly positioned to make major gains in legislative seats this fall, as they lead the generic ballot 48-36 thanks in large part to a 13 point advantage with independents.
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Exodus’ Official Position on Reparative or Conversion Therapy

The California House recently passed a bill outlawing reparative therapy for youth under the age of 18. The Senate is set to vote in coming days. With the media abuzz, we have had numerous calls from news reporters across the country, asking for our opinion and position. Many others have simply mischaracterized Exodus International as a reparative therapy organization. One such instance was a newscast on an ABC affiliate  in San Francisco. The reporter stated that our “members now live heterosexual lives—many with spouses and kids—because of reparative therapy”. We have written this statement to clarify our ministry objective which highlights the mission of Exodus International.

 Exodus International supports an individual’s right to self-determine as they address their personal struggles related to faith, sexuality and sexual expression.  As an organization, we do not subscribe to therapies that make changing sexual orientation a main focus or goal. Our ministry’s objective is to equip the Church to become the primary place where people of faith seek support, refuge and discipleship as they make the decision to live according to Christian principles.

We believe in a “gospel-centric” view, meaning that all people, regardless of individual life struggles, can experience freedom over the power of sin through a daily relationship with Jesus Christ, a commitment to scripture, and by being a part of a vibrant, transparent and relational community of believers found in the local church.  Exodus is partnered with more than 260 churches and support-based ministries who serve individuals and families experiencing a conflict between their faith and sexuality.

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Why One Black Minister Is Risking His Church to Support Gay Marriage

Twenty-two years ago, Reverend Oliver White founded Grace Community United Church of Christ in a low-income black neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota. It was a strong congregation with 320 members — until 2005, when White stood up at a synod of the United Church of Christ and voiced his support of gay marriage. Then he came home and told his congregation what he had done.

“I thought they were with me,” he says, “but much to my chagrin, I immediately started losing members.” Over the next few weeks, two thirds of his members left the congregation.

This month, the church may close its doors altogether. White is currently struggling to raise $200,000 to pay back a loan on the church building by June 30. Even if the money comes through, there’s no guarantee that he will ever fill his pews again. But White, who once marched with the Civil Rights movement, remains adamant in his support of gay marriage. He spoke to me about his views on the subject and the deeper reasons the issue has met with so much resistance from the black church.

-more at Atlantic


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Fighting the Christian Right’s War Against Anti-Bullying Programs

The biggest bullies in the schoolyard may be certain Christian organizations on the right that expend a great deal of their time energy and fund-raising doing everything they can to make sure LGBT students don’t receive the protections of anti-bullying laws.

Their tactic is to encompass spreading information that many others see as outright lies, citing bogus statistics, and lobbying lawmakers in statehouses and the U.S. Capitol. They contend that anti-bullying legislation and programs single out gay students, according to experts EDGE interviewed.

So far, their strategy appears to be working, at least some of the time and in regions across the country.

While 49 states have anti-bullying laws on the books (Montana is the sole exception), only 14 and the District of Columbia specifically include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Wisconsin’s covers sexual orientation only.

Bullying has serious consequences for LGBT youth, who commit more than 30 percent of all reported teen suicides each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to bullying, causes of such suicides include lack of acceptance, abandonment and hate crimes. Christian groups and others then use such statistics to “prove” the harmfulness of the “gay lifestyle.”

-more at Edge Boston

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Why the Church Should Fight Anti-Gay Bigotry

Last week, I called attention to, but did not write about, an important article by former Ambassador Thomas Melady and the Reverend Richard Cizik, a prominent evangelical leader. The two men wrote about the need for Christians to oppose efforts in Uganda to criminalize homosexuality, including life-time prison sentences and even death as penalties in certain cases. I think Melady’s and Cizik’s article is very important.

Many gay men and women see the Christian Church as unjust and bigoted towards them. For purposes of this article, I will only consider the situation of the Catholic Church. Just today, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in publishing its notice about Sr. Margaret Farley’s book on sexual ethics, reaffirmed the teaching that: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” It is not difficult to see how gay men and women could find these words hurtful and even demeaning, even though the CDF precedes this bit about “intrinsically disordered” by affirming the fact that the Church also teaches gay men and women “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

I should like to see the Catholic Church, and the broader Christian community, do more to focus on the teaching about “respect, compassion and sensitivity” and think Melady’s and Cizik’s article does this. It does not ask the Church’s leaders to do something they do not think they could, i.e., change the Church’s teaching. It does not ask the Church to reverse its views on marriage. Instead, the call to oppose unjust discrimination against gays in Uganda asks the Church to do what it can.

Michael Sean Winters

-full post at National Catholic Reporter

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For lapsed Catholics, church's response to GSAs a reminder of why they left

The funeral of Jamie Hubley last fall was heart-wrenchingly sad. How could it not have been? Jamie was a talented teen, well-loved by family and friends. But tormented psychologically by depression and physically by bullies, the openly gay boy took his own life. That day, hundreds who packed the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church mourned Jamie, as did thousands across the city who had never met him, but were touched by his story.

Amid the grief, there was some joy, in that the Holy Redeemer’s sensitive homily and eulogies celebrated Jamie’s young life. But most unexpectedly, the service delivered astonishment to many in the congregation. Here was the Catholic Church holding a service for a gay teenager who had committed suicide. There were no euphemisms bandied about, nor did anyone talk around either issue — indeed, the deacon spoke about depression being a “cancer of the mind.” Those who had been raised in that faith all had a similar thought: This isn’t the Catholic Church I grew up with.

And that’s a good thing.

Read more: Ottawa Citizen

 

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Opposition to gay marriage is "not acceptable", minister says

Nick Herbert, the justice and policing minister, joined the growing political row within the Conservative Party about giving homosexual couples equal rights to marry.

David Cameron has said he wants to change the law to allow same-sex marriage, but has faced a backlash from members of his own party, including some Cabinet ministers.

-full report at Daily Telegraph

Mr Herbert, who is homosexual and in a civil partnership, said that he and others of the same sexuality are effectively being treated as second-class citizens.

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Rabbi: gay marriage opponents 'might as well support stoning'

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said that Christians and Jewish people who oppose homosexual relationships on biblical grounds were applying double standards unless they also believed in some of the more obscure commands in the Old Testament.

He told a debate on gay marriage in London that religious texts had to be reinterpreted for new generations meaning, he argued, that same sex couples should be allowed to marry.

– full report at Daily Telegraph

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22 May: Peter Gomes, Theologian

b. May 22, 1942
There can be no light without the darkness out of which it shines.

Peter Gomes offers a look at religion from a distinctive perspective. Gomes, a Reverend and Professor at Harvard University, argues that the Bible is neither anti-Semitic, anti-feminist nor anti-gay.
In 1991, Peninsula, a conservative Harvard magazine, published a 56-page issue largely critical of homosexuality. Gomes denounced the magazine and came out publicly at Harvard’s Memorial Church. A small group called Concerned Christians at Harvard immediately called for his resignation, but Gomes received support from the Harvard administration.
Renowned for both his teaching and his preaching, Reverend Gomes is the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard and the Pusey Minister at Harvard’s Memorial Church. A graduate of Bates College in 1965 and Harvard Divinity School in 1968, he also studied at the University of Cambridge, where he is an Honorary Fellow and where the Gomes Lectureship was established in his honor. Gomes holds thirty-three honorary degrees. Religion and American Life named him Clergy of the Year in 1998, and he won the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award from Harvard in 2001. Gomes offered prayers at the inaugurations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Gomes is a widely published author. Of the ten volumes of sermons and numerous articles and papers he has written, two of his works – “The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart” (1996) and Sermons: “Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living” (1998) – were New York Times and national bestsellers.
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