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NEWS -- 2009.12.01.Tuesday -- World Aids Day

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  • James Martin
    1) B.A.R. obituaries go online -- every one since 1980 2) Matthew Shepard s birthday -- he would be 33 today 3) LA Times Editorial -- Catholic, Protestant
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2009
      1) B.A.R. obituaries go online -- every one since 1980
      2) Matthew Shepard's birthday -- he would be 33 today
      3) LA Times Editorial -- Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders are going too far when they declare they will break laws on abortion and same-sex marriage
      4) Canadian PM Warns Uganda on Antigay Law
      5) Fury at Uganda proposal for gay executions
      6) Uganda's president claims that gays are 'recruiting'
      7) Catholic News Source: Scott Lively Blames Foreign Gays for Uganda's "Kill Gays" Bill
      8) Rick Warren Downplays Antigay Past
      9) Rick Warren refuses to oppose Uganda's "Kill Gays" bill
      10) The March Towards Theocracy
      11) N.J. Catholic bishops instructing priests to read, distribute letter denouncing same-sex marriage
      12) Rid of gays
      13) Christian Leaders Scapegoat Gays on Marriage
      14) Beck: "Progressives have built up this wall of separation between church and state, and it's nonsense"
      15) Christian church, Native American tribe reconcile
      16) Pro-Creation film OK'ed for screening
      17) Principles before GOP politics
      18) The Sultan of Dubai -- It's not my responsibility.

      Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco http://ebar.com/
      Starting on World AIDS Day, Tuesday, December 1, every obituary that's appeared in the B.A.R. since 1980 is expected to be available through a searchable archive. Tom Burtch, a volunteer at San Francisco's GLBT Historical Society, has spent about three years scanning the obituaries from the paper's archives, which are stored at the society's Mission Street facility.
      B.A.R. obituaries go online
      by Seth Hemmelgarn

      The obituary for Gary Wagman that ran in the Bay Area Reporter on May 4, 1995, isn't totally accurate.

      "He didn't die in my arms," said Freda Wagman, referring to the first paragraph of her son's obituary, which said that he had.

      "His friends left me alone with him, I guess for the last 30 minutes of his life," she said of her son, who died of AIDS-related complications. "I sang softly to him, 'Hush, Little Baby,' to let him know I was there ... He just quietly gave up the fight, and he wasn't in my arms."

      Wagman, who heard her son's obituary from the paper for the first time when the B.A.R. read it to her, doesn't know who wrote it.

      But now everyone will be able to read Gary Wagman's obituary online, along with thousands of others that likely haven't been seen since they were originally published.

      Starting on World AIDS Day (Tuesday, December 1), every obituary that's appeared in the B.A.R. since 1980 is expected to be available through a searchable archive at http://www.glbthistory.org/obituaries.

      For years, especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s, people who had died from complications related to AIDS dominated the B.A.R. 's obituary pages.

      Tom Burtch, a volunteer at San Francisco's GLBT Historical Society, has spent about three years scanning the obituaries from the paper's archives, which are stored at the society's Mission Street facility.

      The site will enable users to share memories and could eventually let them upload photos - "sort of like a Facebook page for each person," said Burtch.

      Burtch, who's been a member of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus for 24 years, had originally set out to find obituaries of former chorus members and put them online in time for the chorus's 30th anniversary last November.

      But after he started, he said, "I realized that was a little bit selfish of me. I felt that the greater community also needed an opportunity to mourn ... an ability to remember people and keep their memories alive."

      'The worst thing'

      Burtch said that he saw obituaries for people that he had known, but he was able to remain "somewhat detached" during the process.

      One issue of the paper really got to him, though.

      On November 16, 1989, the B.A.R. published an eight-page section simply labeled "AIDS Deaths." Each page was filled with small photos of people who had died during the previous year.

      That "was probably the worst thing," said Burtch of the section, which showed the smiling faces of people - mostly men - who were likely unaware of what was going to happen to them.

      When describing the section during a phone interview, Burtch choked up and had to pause for several moments.

      "It's funny," Burtch said as he resumed, "I didn't think that after all this time and all this work ... it could still get me like this."

      A note on the last page of the section explained that not all of the 610 people featured had died from AIDS.

      As of this week, Burtch, who's 60 and has been HIV-positive for about 17 years, and the Web designer were planning to use part of the eight-page section as a background on the Web site.

      Faces and stories

      Paul Boneberg, the historical society's executive director, said the site "provides the faces and the stories to the great tragedy that swept our community over the 1980s and 1990s [and] to this day. I think it's hard for people who didn't live through it to understand the breadth and magnitude of this mass death. ..."

      By July 1992, there were 16 obituaries in one week, a stark contrast to today.

      Many obituaries from those years indicated how quickly AIDS was killing people. One referred to a person dying after being ill for six months. Several others had fought two- or three-year battles.

      One former San Franciscan who remembers that period is Ralph Buchalter, 50, who now lives in South Orange, New Jersey.

      Buchalter, who lived in San Francisco from 1981 to 1998, said he had been writing about life in the city during the 1980s and wanted to jog his memories about some of the people that he'd known here. In April, he sent the B.A.R. an e-mail asking if there was a searchable archive of obituaries from the 1980s and 1990s.

      "In those days there were a lot of gay men who came to San Francisco to escape their families of origin, and often the B.A.R. obituary was the only public sign of where they had gone and what had happened to them," said Buchalter.

      "I knew someone who died at least every third issue in those days," said Buchalter, who himself was diagnosed with HIV in 1986.

      'No obits'

      As the 1990s wore on, the impact of AIDS in San Francisco was still strong but had started to diminish.

      On August 13, 1998, the B.A.R. ran its famous "No obits" headline, marking the first time in years that the paper had not run any obituaries. But the article was careful to point out that the headline didn't mean no one had died of AIDS that week, just that no obituaries had been submitted. Coming a couple years after the advent of protease inhibitors, it marked a turning point of sorts in the epidemic.

      Dan Leifker, the Web designer who assisted Burtch with the project, moved to San Francisco in 1997.

      "We have about 10,000 [people] in the database, and I only know about four or five of them," said Leifker. "That's how much HIV has changed since I moved here."

      Still, working on the project was a moving experience for Leifker.

      "I couldn't do it for more than a couple hours at a time, because it was just so intense," he said.

      Burtch, who said that he'll probably start updating the site once a month, said that he hopes people will see the site as an important contribution and consider becoming a member of the society or making a one-time donation.

      B.A.R. publisher Thomas E. Horn was pleased with the society's project.

      "It's to their credit that they've done it," Horn said.

      He added, "Hopefully, it will open the door to creating larger databases with other information we have in the paper."

      Speaking of her son, who was 41 when he died, Freda Wagman, who lives in Bellaire, Texas, and declined to give her age, said she doesn't forgive herself for "not even holding his hand" in the end, but she said, "I didn't want to bother him ... I was trying to let him be peaceful."

      Wagman has written a book about her and her son's involvement with AIDS titled Snippets from the Trenches, a mother's AIDS memoir.

      After hearing her son's obituary from the B.A.R ., she said, "It's very strange" to bring back the 14-year-old memory to today, "as if it happened last week."


      Matthew Wayne Shepard (December 1, 1976 - October 12, 1998) was a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming in October 1998. He was attacked on the night of October 6-7, and died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries.

      During the trial, witnesses stated that Shepard was targeted because he was gay. Shepard's murder brought national and international attention to the issue of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.


      Los Angeles Times
      Saturday, November 28, 2009

      Christian leaders' stance on civil disobedience is dangerous
      Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders are going too far when they declare they will break laws on abortion and same-sex marriage.
      Philosophers have argued for centuries over whether it is ever justifiable to break the law in the service of a higher cause. The question acquired a new complexity with the advent of societies such as the United States, in which laws were enacted by elected representatives and not decreed by a monarch or dictator.

      Few today would criticize civil rights activists, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., for participating in or condoning the violation of laws that perpetuated white supremacy -- with the understanding that they would face punishment for their actions. But such civil disobedience is rightly regarded as the exception that proves that the proper redress for unjust laws lies in legislation or in court rulings based on the Constitution.

      That cautious approach has been thrown to the wind by Christian religious leaders who, even as they insist on their right to shape the nation's laws, are reserving the right to violate them in situations far removed from King's witness.

      Last week, a group of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders released a "declaration" reminding fellow believers that "Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required." Then, after a specious invocation of King, the 152 signers hurl this anathema at those who would enact laws protecting abortion or extending the rights of civil (not religious) marriage to same-sex couples:

      "Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality. . . . We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's."

      Strong words, but also irresponsible and dangerous ones. The strange land described in this statement is one in which a sinister secularist government is determined to force Christians to betray their principles about abortion or the belief that "holy matrimony" is "an institution ordained by God." The idea that same-sex civil marriage will undermine religious marriage is a canard Californians will remember from the campaign for Proposition 8, as is the declaration's complaint that Christian leaders are being prevented from expressing their "religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife."

      This sweeping claim is supported by anecdotes of the sort radio talk-show hosts purvey. For example, the declaration says that "a Methodist institution was stripped of its tax-exempt status when it declined, as a matter of religious conscience, to permit a facility it owned and operated to be used for ceremonies blessing homosexual unions." (In 2007, New Jersey did strip a Methodist camp of its tax privileges under a state recreation program because it no longer was open to all.) For other examples, it must search beyond the United States: "In Canada and some European nations, Christian clergy have been prosecuted for preaching biblical norms against the practice of homosexuality."

      The impression left is that the legal environment in which churches must operate is reminiscent of the Roman Empire that threw Christians to the lions. Never mind that advocates of same-sex civil marriage and legal abortion have made significant concessions to believers or that religious groups have recourse to courts, which have aggressively protected the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. In 1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, exempting believers in some cases from having to comply with applicable laws.

      This apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking is disingenuous, but it is also dangerous. Did the Roman Catholic bishops who signed the manifesto consider how their endorsement of lawbreaking in a higher cause might embolden the antiabortion terrorists they claim to condemn? Did they stop to think that, by reserving the right to resist laws they don't like, they forfeit the authority to intervene in the enactment of those laws, as they have done in the congressional debate over healthcare reform? They need to be reminded that this is a nation of laws, not of men -- even holy men.



      Posted on Advocate.com November 30, 2009

      Canadian PM Warns Uganda on Antigay Law

      By Julie Bolcer

      Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada (pictured) privately warned president Yoweri Museveni of Uganda over the weekend about a proposed law that would include the death penalty for gay people in the African nation.

      Harper pulled Museveni aside to express his opposition during the biennial Commonwealth summit held in Port of Spain in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, according to the Toronto Star.

      "'It was not discussed multilaterally; however I did raise it directly with the president of Uganda and indicated Canada's deep concern, strong opposition and the fact we deplore these kinds of measures,'" Harper said during a news conference on Sunday, the Star reported.

      "'We find them inconsistent with frankly, I think, any reasonable understanding of human rights, and I was very clear on that with the president of Uganda,'" said Harper.

      The proposed law in the Uganda parliament would impose the death penalty on people who engage in gay sex repeatedly or even once if either party is underage or infected with HIV, and it would jail citizens who do not inform the police within 24 hours of learning about the existence of a gay person.

      British prime minister Gordon Brown also expressed his concern about the law to Museveni, according to the Star.


      Fury at Uganda proposal for gay executions

      Nicholas Watt in Port of Spain
      guardian.co.uk, Friday 27 November 2009 22.08 GMT

      Britain and Canada today led Commonwealth protests against a law proposed by the Ugandan parliament which would introduce the death penalty by hanging for "aggravated homosexuality".

      Gordon Brown expressed Britain's concerns about the parliamentary bill when he met Yoweri Museveni, the veteran Ugandan president, at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Trinidad and Tobago.

      The suggested legislation would apply to sex between gay men or lesbian women in which one person has HIV.

      The bill also proposes the introduction of a three-year prison sentence for anyone who knows of the existence of a gay man or lesbian woman and fails to inform authorities in Uganda within 24 hours.

      The British prime minister's anger was echoed by his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper. Harper's spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, said: "If adopted, a bill further criminalising homosexuality would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda."

      Stephen Lewis, a former UN envoy on Aids in Africa, described the proposed legislation as having "the taste of fascism."

      In a speech in Trinidad, reported in the Globe and Mail, Lewis said: "The credibility of the Commonwealth is hanging by a spider's thread. The putative legislation declares war on homosexuality. What is put at risk here - beyond the threat of the death penalty for HIV-positive homosexuals - is the entire apparatus of Aids treatment, prevention and care."

      Museveni has not endorsed the private member's bill, which was introduced by a backbencher in the Ugandan parliament. But Uganda's ethics and integrity minister, James Nsaba Buturo, welcomed the proposal, saying that he regards the bill "with joy" because it will "provide leadership around the world".


      Uganda's president claims that gays are 'recruiting'

      By Staff Writer,
      November 23, 2009

      The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has claimed that European gays are "recruiting" Ugandan citizens.
      Speaking at the Young Achievers Awards ceremony on Saturday at the Kampala Serena Hotel, he said: "I hear European homosexuals are recruiting in Africa.

      "We used to have very few homosexuals traditionally. They were not persecuted but were not encouraged either because it was clear that is not how God arranged things to be."

      According to the Daily Monitor, he added: "You should discourage your colleagues [who are gay] because God was not foolish to do the way he arranged.

      "Mr and Mrs, but now you have to say Mr and Mr? What is that now?"

      The premier concluded by urging his audience to say no to religious bigotry.

      His words came just after human rights groups and world powers called for an anti-gay bill passing through parliament to be scrapped.

      America, France and the UK have already expressed concern over the bill, which would create a new crime of "aggravated homosexuality".

      It would mean death or life imprisonment for those convicted of homosexuality. Those found guilty of "promoting" homosexuality would also received harsh punishments.


      Catholic News Source: Scott Lively Blames Foreign Gays for Uganda's "Kill Gays" Bill
      Timothy Kincaid
      November 28th, 2009
      LifeSiteNews was originally launched in 1997 by Campaign Life Coalition, a Canadian national pro-life organization, as a news source for those opposed to legal abortion. Since that time it has broadened its interests to include euthanasia, cloning, homosexuality, and other social issues and currently its readership is primarily in the United States.

      LifeSiteNews is generally well written (though biased) and informative and often will have stories that have not caught the attention of mainstream media, especially those which are international in scope. But it must be read with the understanding that it has a strong sectarian slant and is perhaps best viewed as an unofficial lay voice of the Roman Catholic Church.

      Today, LifeSiteNews published an article that was unexpected. The Editor, John-Henry Westen, interviewed Scott Lively and echoed without question his statements about homosexuality in Uganda and the current effort underway to pass legislation to execute HIV positive gay people, incarcerate other gay people for life, and jail those family, friends, or acquaintances who do not report suspected gay people to the government. While Westen's biases make him ready to believe the worst about gay people, however irrational, it was surprising the extent to which Lively's word was taken as unvarnished truth.

      Scott Lively is an unusual anti-gay activist. He does not stop at moral concern, cultural discomfort, or objection based in ignorance, stereotype, or unfamiliarity. Rather, Lively travels the world marketing in anti-gay lies and myths and seeking to inflame hatred and instigate outrage and social oppression of gay people on an international scale.

      Lively is the author of The Pink Swastika, a book whose premise is that the Nazis were primarily a homosexual organization and that gays were responsible for the Holocaust. While this is a laughable assertion dismissed by historians and holocaust groups, it is read, believed, and treasured in countries where animus against gay people is strong and an excuse to hate gay people is welcomed without question.

      Lively was also, along with Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge of Richard Cohen's International Healing Foundation, one of the three American speakers at the conference in February which led to the current proposed legislation in Uganda.

      According to the reported interview in LifeSiteNews, Lively is spinning a peculiar message. Lively says that laws against homosexuality should be on the books but only sporadically enforced. This keeps gays oppressed and support for their social inclusion forbidden.

      He testified to lawmakers in the Ugandan Assembly Hall that having legislation against homosexuality on the books is important since it protects against those who would advocate in public and in schools that homosexuality is positive.

      While Lively makes sure to say that the bill as proposed is "too harsh", his primary objective in the interview was to lay the blame for any excesses in the bill on reasonable reaction to "the heavy-handed pressure from international gay-activist politicians on Uganda to accept homosexuality as normal."

      In fact, as Dr. Scott Lively, the President of Defend the Family pointed out, the preamble to the bill, and the bill itself contain numerous references to stopping international pressure on Uganda to accept Western sexual values that are abhorrent to Ugandan culture.

      The bill states explicitly that it aims "at providing a comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect the cherished culture of the people of Uganda." The goal is to protect the "legal, religious, and traditional family values of the people of Uganda against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda."

      Dr. Lively, a pro-family activist and attorney based in California was in Uganda in March to testify before Ugandan legislators now considering the legislation. In an interview with LifeSiteNews (LSN), Dr. Lively explained that the impetus for the bill was "a lot of external interference from European and American gay activists attempting to do in Uganda what they've done around the world - homosexualize that society." One of their main concerns, explained Lively, "are the many male homosexuals coming in to the country and abusing boys who are on the streets."

      The Catholic Church's position on the "Kill Gays" bill is less clearly defined. However, as LifeSiteNews summarizes, they too are taking a "blame it on the foreign gays" approach:

      While the Catholic leadership in the nation has not yet responded publicly to the proposed bill, they have consistently expressed outrage at the attempts of the West to impose acceptance of homosexuality on the country. Last month at the Synod for Africa at the Vatican, bishops from all over the continent noted their grave concerns over the international anti-family pressure.

      Summing up the discussions, the Cardinal Archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, Peter Turkson, said that the Synod had "described in various ways a ferocious onslaught on the family and the related fundamental institution of marriage from outside Africa and attributed it to diverse sources." The bishops, he said, "vigorously denounced the ideology and international programs which are imposed on African countries under false pretexts or as conditions for development assistance."

      This may not be a conclusive endorsement of the bill by the Catholic Church - and indeed the death penalty goes in opposition to the position of the Vatican. However, it would appear that the Catholic Church is, in at least some venues, indicating that it will not speak out in opposition to this draconian piece of legislation.

      Scott Lively has illustrated that he has no use for civil freedoms such as the right to speech or assembly, and his gross distortion of the murder of a gay man has long since revealed a lack or any moral center. One expects nothing but the most extreme and hateful from him.

      But it is sad when an institution as old and influential as the Catholic Church, and one that is charged with doing good, seems to be siding with evil.


      Rick Warren Downplays Antigay Past

      Posted on Advocate.com November 30, 2009

      By Julie Bolcer

      Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren appeared Sunday on Meet the Press, where he presented himself as a friend of gay people, if not marriage equality, in response to a series of questions from host David Gregory.

      "My role is to love everybody," said Warren, who described himself as "much more sympathetic" to gay people when asked whether his work on HIV/AIDS around the world had affected his beliefs.

      Warren also agreed that the millions of dollars spent last year to pass Proposition 8 in California would have been spent more wisely on efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. However, he refused to say whether or not he would support a similar ballot initiative against marriage equality in the future, and he minimized his role in the 2008 campaign, saying it amounted to an appearance in one video, despite evidence to the contrary.

      "I'm not a politician," said Warren. "I didn't fight it in the last issue. What was misunderstood is that people on both sides tried to make me the campaign leader. I only mentioned it one time, and I mentioned it to my own congregation when I was asked, 'What is our position on this?'"

      Warren is currently under scrutiny by activists for his involvement with Martin Ssempa, the antigay pastor backing the draconian bill in Uganda that would punish gay people with death in some instances.

      Watch Warren on Meet the Press below.

      ---click on the URL to watch---

      Lots of comments at the URL.


      See also http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/11/29/16987
      Rick Warren refuses to oppose Uganda's "Kill Gays" bill
      Timothy Kincaid
      November 29th, 2009


      The March Towards Theocracy
      Friday, November 27, 2009

      The Family Policy Council of Washington state, stinging from their R-71 defeat, says that any legal basis for separation of church and state is a myth. And it's perfectly fine to make laws based on the Bible. Transcript via Lurleen:
      No, the phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear anywhere in the United States or Washington State constitutions. Regardless, the fact that people of a particular religious faith share common ideas does not mean that those ideas are necessarily unconstitutional because nthey are religious. To the contrary, our laws against stealing, killing, lying, perjury, incest, rape, battery and destruction of property were all religious tenets long before they were laws. Now no one wants to repeal the criminal code because its major themes were first recorded in the Bible. Now the idea that a preference for heterosexual marriage is unconstitutional is [sic] simply because it is consistent with religious doctrine is legally and constitutionally unsupportable. Now our Founding Fathers wanted to avoid a situation where a religious organization wrote the laws for the county. However, they did not intend to create a country in which citizens and elected officials were forbidden from reading, discussing, thinking about or even legislating ideas that happen to be religious in nature.


      The comments following the youtube are sharp.



      N.J. Catholic bishops instructing priests to read, distribute letter denouncing same-sex marriage
      By Jeff Diamant/The Star-Ledger
      November 28, 2009, 7:30AM
      Catholic bishops in the state are instructing priests to read or distribute a letter this weekend asking Catholics to pray that lawmakers in New Jersey not allow same-sex marriage in New Jersey.

      It remains unclear whether legislators will vote on the issue during the current lame-duck session. Gov. John Corzine favors same-sex marriage, but Gov.-elect Chris Christie opposes it, and supporters realize that unless it passes before Christie assumes office, prospects of passage in the foreseeable future would be bleak.

      The bishops' letter restates Catholic teachings that marriage should be allowed only between a man and a woman. It says prayer is timely "because marriage faces challenges from a society more focused on individual satisfaction than on the Gospel.

      "One of the most serious challenges," it continues, "is the current effort to pass Bills in the New Jersey legislature that would change the very definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman in order to allow same-sex 'marriage.' We must not stand silent in the face of this serious challenge."

      The letter also asks Catholics to "pledge their personal support" for family members, including those "who choose to remain single" -- a reference to gay people and heterosexual people, according to James Goodness, a spokesman for the Newark Archdiocese.

      Not all public religious voices in the state are aligned against same-sex marriage. Last month, 18 clergy across the state, including Bishop Mark Beckwith of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, asked lawmakers to allow same-sex marriage, in a letter-writing campaign coordinated by Garden State Equality, the advocacy group that favors same-sex marriage.


      Salt Lake Tribune
      Letter to the Editor
      Rid of gays
      Public Forum Letter

      Updated: 11/25/2009 02:24:36 PM MST
      We all know that aliens come here from other planets disguised as humans. They assimilate and marry unsuspecting humans so that they can produce more of their kind. They are among us.

      Gays are among us, too. They are our friends, relatives and acquaintances pretending to be heterosexual so they can marry real heterosexuals and produce more of their kind. We can't let this happen.

      Same-sex marriage is not the problem; it is the answer. We need laws that force gays to marry only each other. When gays marry gays, they can't reproduce. Enact laws that compel these marriages, and in just a few generations our country will be rid of this abomination, and God will be happy.

      Charley Bishop



      Christian Leaders Scapegoat Gays on Marriage

      Nathaniel Frank
      Author, "Unfriendly Fire", and Senior Research Fellow, Palm Center http://www.palmcenter.org/

      November 25, 2009 11:16 AM
      The most significant thing about the new, anti-gay "Manhattan Declaration" is not that scores of Christians are against gay rights. It's that, recognizing they're on the wrong side of history, they tie themselves in knots insisting they're not anti-gay. And in doing so, they reveal the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of their obsessive persecution of gay people.

      The Declaration, released last week and signed by over 150 Christian leaders and social conservatives, identifies abortion, gay marriage, and religious liberty as the three most important issues facing modern Christians, and pleads with both believers and non-believers to stand up against the first two and in defense of the third.

      Christians, says the Declaration's preamble, were the ones who rescued abandoned babies in trash heaps in ancient Rome, tended to the sick during the plagues, ended slavery in the West, uplifted the poor, created the conditions for democracy, and ushered in women's suffrage. Their bizarre self-righteousness in claiming the mantle of all the great things that have happened in history makes you wonder if these modern moral crusaders have a pathological need to feel that they are good people, which is usually the first sign that they have reason to worry they are not. (Sure enough, one of the three drafters of the document is Nixon's former special counsel, Chuck Colson, convicted of obstructing justice surrounding the Watergate scandal.)

      Claiming the rather quaint authority not only of Holy Scripture but of "natural human reason" and "the very nature of the human person," the signatories proclaim themselves vigilantes called to protect "marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society."

      The drafters seem to go out of their way to present themselves not as garden-variety right-wing hate-mongers but as highly educated Christian rationalists who have mastered the art of hating the sin and loving the sinner. They seem braced for the smarter folks they sometimes encounter in their daily lives to say, "WTF are you talking about -- why are you spending your energy rationalizing your homophobia instead of putting that behind you so you can focus on resolving the far more legitimate concerns you may have about the moral state of modern society?" They insist preemptively that "it is out of love (not 'animus') and prudent concern for the common good (not 'prejudice'), that we pledge to labor ceaselessly to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman." And they claim they have no choice: "How could we, as Christians, do otherwise? The Bible teaches us that marriage is a central part of God's creation covenant." Funny -- the Bible also teaches that divorce is absolutely prohibited, but there is no movement to take the right to divorce away (just to make it a tad harder). And where's the battle to pass a law requiring that adulterers get stoned to death?

      Support for gay marriage, say the signatories, "reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage," which apparently only Christian conservatives truly know. It would "lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about procreation and the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life."

      For decades now, religious moralizers have cast marital heterosexual intercourse as the zenith of virtuous self-sacrifice because it sometimes results in the nifty creation of another human life. I admit this is pretty cool, and I sometimes wish I could do it too. But sexual intercourse is also the epitome of self-indulgence, the embrace of one of the most intense experiences of carnal pleasure of which humans are capable. This pleasure, and the fraught relation we have to it in the Western world, is of course the very reason we've created a purifying religious narrative of redemption -- to tell ourselves that the act that many find dirty, messy, and guilt-inducing is really the highest, noblest, most selfless act there is -- so long as something greater than the sum of its parts comes out of it, something to balance out its highly selfish component. While homosexuals and their allegedly exotic acts of sexual pleasure are cast as the epitome of narcissism, what could be more narcissistic than reproducing yourself -- the only kind of sex that conservative Christians endorse?

      So social conservatives hang the privileging of heterosexuality on the assertion that an act which might produce a life can't be all that bad, no matter how fun it might be; and a really fun act which can't produce a life must be either outright bad (gay sex) or merely tolerated (infertile heterosexual sex). Bracing for the retort that any reasoning that allows marriage for infertile straights must also allow marriage for gay couples, the signers of the Declaration are ready with prose that is more horrendous and meaningless than the worst translation of Hegelian philosophy. It deserves to be quoted in its entirety:

      Marriage is made possible by the sexual complementarity of man and woman, and the comprehensive, multi-level sharing of life that marriage is includes bodily unity of the sort that unites husband and wife biologically as a reproductive unit. This is because the body is no mere extrinsic instrument of the human person, but truly part of the personal reality of the human being. Human beings are not merely centers of consciousness or emotion, or minds, or spirits, inhabiting non-personal bodies. The human person is a dynamic unity of body, mind, and spirit. Marriage is what one man and one woman establish when, forsaking all others and pledging lifelong commitment, they found a sharing of life at every level of being - the biological, the emotional, the dispositional, the rational, the spiritual - on a commitment that is sealed, completed and actualized by loving sexual intercourse in which the spouses become one flesh, not in some merely metaphorical sense, but by fulfilling together the behavioral conditions of procreation. That is why in the Christian tradition, and historically in Western law, consummated marriages are not dissoluble or annullable on the ground of infertility, even though the nature of the marital relationship is shaped and structured by its intrinsic orientation to the great good of procreation.

      The first thing to say about this blather is that it doesn't make any sense. I don't mean it's something that secular rationalists simply don't have the capacity to understand; it's actual nonsense. It doesn't take a pomo-studies major from Brown to point out that the exclusive "complementarity of man and woman" is not an empirical fact but a subjective predilection of those who find satisfaction in male-female intimacy. The fact that the bond can form a procreative unit doesn't make it any more sexually complementary than a same-sex pairing, a fact which society already recognizes by granting marital rights to infertile, post-menopausal, and willingly childless couples. And while we're at it: spouses don't actually become one flesh in intercourse--they can get pretty damned close, but they don't literally meld together. And the idea that straights deserve special rights because they alone fulfill the "behavioral conditions of procreation" is nothing more than a failed attempt to justify heterosexual privilege. It says that, so long as a couple's behavior mimics that which sometimes leads to procreation, i.e. so long as they are straight, they can join the club, even if their actual union is utterly devoid of the procreative result that supposedly justifies any marriage in the first place.

      The second thing to say is that what the signers are most likely trying to say here -- that marriage is society's way of honoring and encouraging comprehensive, life-sharing unions that involve spiritual, emotional, sexual, and yes biological complementarity (two lives whose pairing makes life better) -- applies to gay unions too. Indeed, the signatories have utterly failed to explain to rational thinkers why gay marriage should be blocked.

      So they slip from holy rhetoric to the purely pragmatic. "Vast human experience," they write, "confirms that marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all persons in a society." Huh? If marriage were the "original and most important" institution for sustaining human beings, we wouldn't be here (what did we do before marriage?). Christianity didn't even declare marriage a sacrament until 1215, largely ignoring it for its first millennium of existence. The Western, nuclear family structure simply is not the only arrangement that ever succeeded at nurturing prosperous human societies, as the rampant polygamy in the bible and throughout much of the world today reminds us.

      Finally, there's the circular reasoning of the signers' lame attempt to show "genuine social harm" that allegedly results from any alternatives to straight-only marriage. Alternatives to traditional marriage harm religious freedom by upsetting those whose religion, well, opposes alternatives to traditional marriage; they "abuse the rights of parents" because they lead to teaching things that some parents don't want taught; and they undercut civil society by allowing the law's "pedagogical function" to become a tool for eroding the traditional understanding of marriage on which civil society rests. They could just as well have said that female suffrage -- which the signers boasted of supporting a century ago -- is bad for society because it will lead to teaching that female suffrage is good for society; or racial integration is bad because it will prompt people to say it is good. If this is the best you've got, you'd be wise to stick to "the Bible tells me so."

      The bankruptcy of the anti-gay marriage crowd's arguments is best revealed by their use of the old slippery slope chimera, echoed this week by Mike Huckabee: Once you change the meaning of marriage to include gays, why not groups, siblings, children, and maybe sheep? Any alternative to heterosexual marriage, says the Declaration, "could be asserted with equal validity for polyamorous partnerships, polygamous households, even adult brothers, sisters, or brothers and sisters living in incestuous relationships. Should these, as a matter of equality or civil rights, be recognized as lawful marriages?"

      Here's what's going on here: Religious opponents of gay marriage don't have a good understanding of why a modern state should recognize civil marriage in the first place; they view marriage primarily as a religious tradition that has made their lives satisfying and secure and so they are most comfortable justifying it in terms of what's been -- this is one of the roles of a religious narrative. If they thought honestly and rigorously about the civil, rather than just religious, reasons why the state recognizes marriage today, they'd see that gay unions fit into those reasons in the modern world. But, vaguely to ardently anti-gay, they can only view gay rights as a symbol of "anything goes" hedonism. Some purposely deploy the "slippery slope" tactic to try to win the argument. But many others are simply not willing or able to think that maybe there are actual reasons why gay marriage makes rational sense while group and incestuous marriages don't. So to paraphrase a recent presidential candidate, they cling to gays and God to defend a way of life that's familiar.

      Only if you don't have a good reason for defending the existence of marriage would you be this insecure about sharing it. When your only defense of the status quo is to suggest it's always been this way and any change will ruin it, you know you're out of reasons to defend the status quo.

      So let me give the defense-of-marriage crowd a few good reasons to defend marriage that don't rely on sectarianism: it can provide a stable place to raise kids, if you have them; it channels the boisterous, undirected energy of young singles into unthreatening domestic bonds; it encourages individuals to take care of each other so the state won't have to; and it helps society recognize and enforce the caretaking commitments people have made to one another. All these functions gay couples can share in.

      Says the Declaration: "Just as Christ was willing, out of love, to give Himself up for the church in a complete sacrifice, we are willing, lovingly, to make whatever sacrifices are required of us for the sake of the inestimable treasure that is marriage." This is great news. If you're really interested in sacrificing for marriage, stop opposing the righteous tide of history, speak out for the honest reasons that marriage matters for all of us, and quit leaning on the superficial gratification of heterosexual privilege to make yourself feel more Godly.


      Nathaniel Frank: Author, "Unfriendly Fire" and Senior Research Fellow, Palm Center


      Beck: "Progressives have built up this wall of separation between church and state, and it's nonsense"
      November 25, 2009 5:49 pm ET
      From the November 25 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:



      After watching the two minute video, read the comments.
      Glenn Beck is both a Mormon and an idiot.
      comment received from a friend --
      He lives in my son's stake in Connecticut and sings in the Stake choir. He's Brother Beck to everyone there. They're probably enamored of his celebrity.

      Most people I know view him as a whack job. Those whose political leanings are far right tend to view him favorably, that's politics, not Church.
      Politics and church are indistinguishable for some folks.

      Indeed they are - stupid folks, for the most part...


      New Orleans Times- Picayune

      Christian church, Native American tribe reconcile
      VERENA DOBNIK - 11/27/2009 10:46:38 PM

      Members of one of America's oldest Protestant churches officially apologized Friday - for the first time - for massacring and displacing Native Americans 400 years ago.
      "We consumed your resources, dehumanized your people and disregarded your culture, along with your dreams, hopes and great love for this land," the Rev. Robert Chase told descendants from both sides. "With pain, we the Collegiate Church, remember our part in these events."

      'We consumed your resources, dehumanized your people and disregarded your culture, along with your dreams, hopes and great love for this land,' the Rev. Robert Chase told descendants from both sides.
      The minister spoke at a reconciliation ceremony of the Lenape tribe with the Collegiate Church, started in 1628 in then-New Amsterdam as the Reformed Dutch Church.

      Earlier this week, President Barack Obama declared Friday the first Native American Heritage Day.

      The reconciliation ceremony was held in front of the Museum of the American Indian in lower Manhattan, where Dutch colonizers had built their fort near an Indian trail now called Broadway, near Wall Street.

      The Collegiate Church was considered the "conscience" of the new colony, whose merchants quickly developed commerce with the world in fur and grains - till then the turf of the natives.

      Surrounded by Lenape Indians, the Dutch colonists "were hacking men, women and children to death," said Ronald Holloway, the chairman of the Sand Hill band of Lenapes, who lived here before Henry Hudson landed 400 years ago.

      The Indians dispersed across the country, eventually ending up on government-formed reservations. On Friday, some came from as far away as Oklahoma.

      'After 400 years, when someone says "I'm sorry," you say, "Really?" ' said Ronald Holloway, chairman of the Sand Hill band of the Lenapes.
      During the ceremony, Chase embraced Holloway and, as symbolic gestures of healing, the two sides exchanged wampum - strings of beads used by North American Indians as money or ornament. A boy representing the Lenapes and a girl from the Collegiate Church put necklaces on each other.

      While Friday's ceremony exuded warmth and openness, accompanied by an Indian drumming circle and the haunting sound of a wooden flute, the feelings leading up to the reconciliation were mixed.

      "After 400 years, when someone says 'I'm sorry,' you say, 'Really?' " Holloway said before the ritual. "There was some kind of uneasiness. But then you've got to accept someone's sincere apology; they said, 'We did it.' We ran you off, we killed you.' "

      In New York City, the Collegiate churches are composed of four congregations including the landmark Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue led by the late Rev. Norman Vincent Peale.

      The church plans to sponsor educational activities and exhibits to teach children history - including the Indian reverence for preserving the purity of the land taken over by the Dutch colonists.


      My comment --
      Where were the Southern Baptists?


      Rightwingers are real happy

      [ OneNewsNow is a part of the AFA (American Family Association) ]


      Pro-Creation film OK'ed for screening
      Charlie Butts - OneNewsNow - 11/25/2009 4:30:00 AM

      A controversy over use of a government facility for a movie screening has been resolved.
      The movie The Mysterious Islands is designed to challenge the Darwinian theory of evolution. Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney Daniel Blomberg tells OneNewsNow the venue for a private screening is the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

      "The facility was initially very open to having Vision Forum show its movie there," he explains. "And then once they found out about the content of the movie that deals with scientific and religious perspectives on evolution, they decided they didn't want to have the movie there after all."

      Blomberg explains that his legal firm wrote a letter to Center officials explaining the law that if films on other topics are allowed, then religious ones cannot be denied.

      "I think they had something in the range of 153 different events there at this facility last year," the attorney notes. "They have an IMAX theatre there that can be rented out to the public, and they show movies ranging from Batman to Spiderman to movies like Blue Planet and The Magical Flight there. So they really have a wide variety of viewpoints and perspectives and movies they allow at their facilities."

      Upon receiving ADF's letter, Center officials contacted Vision Forum to give an official okay for the screening of The Mysterious Islands.


      My comment --
      "They" NEVER allow any opposing viewpoint in their churches, and then they want everyone else to listen to their point of view.



      Principles before GOP politics
      Jim Brown - OneNewsNow - 11/30/2009 7:00:00 AM
      The vice chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) is promoting a proposed resolution that would warn 2010 GOP candidates that if they do not respect the party's "conservative values," they will not receive the financial backing or endorsement of the RNC.

      The "Proposed RNC Resolution on Reagan's Unity Principle for Support of Candidates" was drafted by Jim Bopp, vice chairman of the RNC. It requires that GOP candidates prove not only with their campaign speeches, but also with their voting record that they embrace at least eight of ten conservative principles (listed below).

      Bopp tells OneNewsNow he has yet to get RNC chairman Michael Steele's opinion on his proposal because the resolution was leaked prematurely by "people who are trying to undermine the effort." He says the resolution is designed to ensure the party puts its money where its mouth is.

      "The Republican Party needs to reclaim its conservative bona fides," argues Bopp. "The problem is that we lost our way on fiscal conservative policies at the end of the Bush administration with expanding government and increasing debt, and then support of bailouts. So we need to show that we are serious about governing as conservatives."

      Bopp says the Republican Party's message is compromised when the party supports liberal Republican candidates like DeDe Scozzafava in the 23rd Congressional District of New York.

      The ten conservative principles, as distributed by the RNC, are as follows:

      (1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill.

      (2) We support market-based healthcare reform and oppose Obama-style government-run healthcare.

      (3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap-and-trade legislation.

      (4) We support workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check.

      (5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants.

      (6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges.

      (7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat.

      (8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act.

      (9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing healthcare rationing and denial of healthcare and government funding of abortion.

      (10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.


      The Sultan of Dubai -- It's not my responsibility. [ That's the translation. ]

      excerpt from column --
      The overwhelming majority of companies whose shares traded Monday on the Dubai Financial Market, the city-state's main bourse, were also deeply in the red. But the market failed to hit the 10 percent stop-trading cap largely because a large number of company shares were not traded.


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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