April 21, 2006

Jesus' Example--If All Else Fails, Sue 'Em?

That would be the gospel according to Dr. Jerry Falwell. Be careful of the spelling if you are seeking out his website. If you are trying to reach the home page of the good doctor's website by typing in his last name, don't put in one two many l's. The site www.falwell.com will direct you to Dr. Falwell's center of ministry. However, if you type in www.fallwell.com, you will find an entirely different message--and that's the problem, at least in Dr. Falwell's judgment.

The site with one too many l's, very low tech by today's standards, contains this message:

I was just 12 years old. My family and I were on vacation in Virginia. My dad and I were watching television in our motel room. Jerry Falwell's "Old Time Gospel Hour" was on. Reverend Falwell looked into the camera and, preaching against gay people, said, "Even animals don't do that."

That was the first time in my life that I ever felt unworthy of the love of God.

Yes, the owner of www.fallwell.com is gay and uses that forum to present the other side of the issue. Generously, he also provided a link to Dr. Falwell's site for those who are misdirected. I noticed no reciprocal link from Falwell's home page, a clear violation of Internet courtesy.

Apparently outraged by someone clever enough to use that domain name, Falwell did just what Jesus would have--he sued. When the decision didn't go his way, he took it all the way up to the Supreme Court. Earlier this week, the High Court had the good sense not to waste their time with this case, allowing the owner of www.fallwell.com to maintain his site as is.

The MSNBC report also tells how Dr. Falwell intimidated the owner of the domains jerryfalwell.com and jerryfallwell.com into yielding control of those or else face the wrath of Falwell's attorneys.

I keep searching my bible to find where Jesus ever did anything remotely like bringing a suit against anyone. He didn't even have an attorney when He was "tried" and sentenced to death for crying out loud. Can you imagine Him suing someone else who was called Jesus out of fear he would lose part of his audience? The thought is laughable, isn't it?

I guess I have one of those "Lavender Bibles" that doesn't correctly explain to me why homosexuals are horrible sinners and why Christians should sue whenever they don't get their way.

April 20, 2006

Delusions of Grandeur

Our friends at the AFA (American "Family" Association) are still harassing the Ford Motor Company. Their latest grievance is Ford's sponsorship of The Family Area at the upcoming Motor City Pride event in suburban Detroit on June 4.

That in itself is enough to annoy the AFA, but an activity scheduled in this area is really ticking them off. The Detroit MCC church is looking for gay and lesbian couples to participate in a committment ceremony to make a statement in support of same-sex marriage.

The AFA is using this as more ammunition to get people on board with their boycott of Ford. Here's the part that really chafes me. Taken from their website:

"Since the boycott began, Ford stock has fallen 7% and Associated Press stated that Ford sales were down 5% in March. Many financial consultants believe that Ford is headed for bankruptcy. It appears that Ford is more willing to face bankruptcy than ending their support of homosexual groups and causes."

Wait a minute--back the truck up! Is the American Family Association actually trying to claim credit for pushing Ford toward bankruptcy.

Anyone who closely follows the news knows that Ford, or any other American automaker, doesn't need anyone's help to encounter financial difficulties.

It makes me wonder how many of the AFA's members are really that closely in touch with the news or most of the reality the rest of us live in every day.

April 18, 2006

How Does It Feel to be a Political Pawn?

There are several items on the Republicans' congressional agenda leading up to the 2006 elections, and the GLBT community is right in the crosshairs.

The Republicans aren't even trying to mask their intentions any more. They are clearly playing to their right-wing base by introducing a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, along with pushing for abortion limits and anti-flag burning legislation.

Not coincidentally, the right wing base has made it abundantly clear they expect this and more from the legislators they feel they put into office. Quoting from the USA Today/AP report:

"It seems like for only six months, every two years — right around election time — that we're even noticed," said Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council.

"Some of these better pass," he added. "You notice when it's just lip service being paid."

Bill Frist, the senate majority leader, has accepted his marching orders. ""When America's values are under attack, we need to act," Frist told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February.

Gary Bauer (he's still around?), the head of Americans United to Preserve Marriage, says "The marriage amendment is in a class by itself because of what's at stake."

What's at stake? Oh yeah, the entire concept of a family. How can I keep forgetting as often as these folks are reminding me?

The report also says "Sending the proposed amendment to the states for ratification may not win the two-thirds majority required in the House and Senate. But committing to a vote in June is a gesture of good faith that would resonate with social conservatives, Bauer said.

I'm glad to see my tax money being put to such good use.

So, GLBT folks, the Republicans think you are a pawn, perhaps even a pinata--you know, just getting whacked around for someone else's entertainment.

Are you going to sit there and take your beating? The elections are coming in November and you have an opportunity to step up and defend yourself at the ballot box.

Education—The Enemy of Prejudice

There is a proposal being considered by the California state legislature that would require public school textbooks to include gay and lesbian history.

"This is simply adding the LGBT community to the groups that the state has said must be included in the curriculum," Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California, which backs the bill, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "There's nothing special or different.”

Of course, not everyone agrees. Again quoting from the Chronicle report:

"This is about pushing a blatant sexual agenda -- including sex changes that involve cutting off body parts -- upon impressionable schoolchildren as young as kindergarten," said Randy Thomasson, who heads the Campaign for Children and Families.

Thomasson said teaching about racial differences is not like teaching about sexual orientation because, he believes, people can change their sexual orientation. He said the bill "will require the positive portrayal of these lifestyles, with the goal of forcing students to accept them and even consider themselves eligible to engage in them."

To their credit, the Chronicle has come out in support of this legislation in a recent editorial. While stating that this law would be largely symbolic, the Chronicle opined:

“…..symbolism can be important when confronting an entrenched curriculum that may -- even unintentionally -- be perpetuating myths or negative stereotypes about a particular minority group. Kuehl's bill is not about political correctness. It is about completeness and accuracy.”

This reminds me of a situation I experienced while attending elementary school just a few miles outside of Washington, DC in the late 1960’s. Living in Prince Georges County, Maryland, I was exposed to one of the first curriculums that included what at the time was referred to as “Black History.” We were taught about the civil rights protests, the works of Martin Luther King, and what prejudice was really about.

As I learned more about the struggles of blacks in our nation and the important contributions of black scientists, artists, and leaders I had not previously heard of, I looked at my black classmates differently, with more understanding and acceptance of our differences.

The religious right cringes at the thought of that happening with attitudes toward the GLBT community. They don’t want their kids taught about positive contributions of gays and lesbians and the injustice many of them have endured over the years. If children learn these things, it will be harder for their parents to teach condemnation and discrimination.

The kids might be inclined to treat GLBT people like members in good standing of the human race.

April 17, 2006

Is Tax Money Supporting Discrimination?

This story out of Kentucky got me to thinking, something I try to do on occasion. A student named Jason Johnson (no relation I know of) was expelled from The University of the Cumberlands when details about his gay dating life he had made public on the Internet were found by school officials.

There are two points I want to make relating to this item. I don’t actually have a problem with the school taking this action. They stated it in their school handbook that sex outside marriage and homosexual practices could result in a student being asked to withdraw from school. The policy was in place and Johnson was willingly violating it.

I also don’t take exception to churches that do not welcome homosexuals. I obviously don’t believe they are correctly discerning God’s will, but I support their right to include and exclude whoever they want. My problems with them occur when they venture outside their boundaries and try to influence public policy or otherwise impose their views on those outside their organization.

That leads me to my second point and why I am quite bothered by the actions of the University of the Cumberlands. Despite their policy of exclusion, they receive $11 million in funds annually from the state of Kentucky. How can tax money support the work of schools that include or exclude students based in part on a specific set of religious values?

Doesn’t that at least imply the state of Kentucky supports the policy of requiring students from abstaining from sex outside of a legal marriage? Why are they allowed to determine a student’s suitability for higher learning based on their sex lives while operating in part on taxpayers’ funds, at least some of which would have been donated by GLBT people?

There is starting to be some pushback on the Governor of Kentucky to exercise his power of line-item veto on the next state budget and eliminate funds for the University of the Cumberlands. I hope he does so.

States and the federal government have no business contributing any support to organizations run by religious principles. I certainly have no issue at all with them existing; I just don’t want them enforcing their beliefs by using tax money.

April 16, 2006

There Are No Limits to Jesus

Matthew 28: 17-18 (after he had risen following his crucifixion) When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."

There are no limits to Jesus. He told us so himself. He has authority over everything! He demonstrated that by rising up from the dead!

Have you been so badly hurt by loved ones that you can't imagine your life every being right? Jesus can heal that pain--after all, he rose from the dead.

Have you dealt with condemnation of those who call themselves Christians and feel like you could never be welcomed into Christ's church? That's not the case. Jesus loves us all--he allowed himself to be brutally murdered and rose from the dead for each and every one of us.

Have you committed sin that you believe God can never forgive you for? He CAN forgive. he sent Jesus to earth to die and arise to pay the price for our sins. If we seek forgiveness, it is ours; not because we deserve it, but because Jesus rose from the dead.

Is there anything in your life you think is broken beyond repair? Is there an emptiness that you can't imagine could ever be filled?

Then you are wrong! Jesus can do it. He has authority over everything on heaven and earth.

After all, he rose from the dead.