November 25, 2006

Is the King James Bible the Original Rainbow Translation?

You might read that headline and wonder what in the world I'm talking about. Try this on for size. The King James Bible, treated by some fundamentalists as the original writing of the Bible (no dummies, it was written in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic--the King James was the first ENGLISH translation from those original scriptures), was ordered by an actual King James in the 17th century.

What if he had been gay? What if, for centuries, the bible that has been the basis of much of the religious right theology had been authorized by a gay man?

Richard Mathis was kind enough to forward a link to this piece he wrote on that very subject for the site

Mr. Mathis wonders how the North Carolina Baptist Convention, which recently turned up the head on any member church that is accepting of gays, would view that revelation, then goes into great detail presenting evidence to support that assertion, one that is not new (Pastor Brenda was familiar with it) but is presented very clearly in this column.

Mathis writes, "How ironic it is that gay unfriendly Southern Baptists are the biggest proponents of the King James Bible. Then again, given that King James was remarkably arrogant, out-of-touch and torched "sodomites" and "witches" in the name of God while all the time being a sanctimonious hypocrite engaging in gay relationships, he could blend right in along side Ted Haggard putting the heat on gays and feminist abortionists."


November 24, 2006

"When Religion Loses Its Credibility"

A column recently appeared in the USA Today with that headline.

"Galileo was persecuted for revealing what we now know to be the truth regarding Earth’s place in our solar system. Today, the issue is homosexuality, and the persecution is not of one man but of millions. Will Christian leaders once again be on the wrong side of history?"

"Christianity is in danger of squandering its moral authority by continuing its pattern of discrimination against gays and lesbians in the face of mounting scientific evidence that sexual orientation has little or nothing to do with choice. To the contrary, whether sexual orientation arises as a result of the mother's hormones or the child's brain structure or DNA, it is almost certainly an accident of birth. The point is this: Without choice, there can be no moral culpability."

"The suffering that gay and lesbian people have endured at the hands of religion is incalculable, but they can look expectantly to the future for vindication. Scientific facts, after all, are a stubborn thing. Even our religious beliefs must finally yield to them as the church in its battle with Galileo ultimately realized. But for religion, the future might be ominous. Watching the growing conflict between medical science and religion over homosexuality is like watching a train wreck from a distance. You can see it coming for miles and sense the inevitable conclusion, but you're powerless to stop it. The more church leaders dig in their heels, the worse it's likely to be."

The author is a Baptist minister, and it certainly is refreshing to see this type of insight in the mainstream press instead of just in someone's blog.

November 23, 2006

U. S. Military Continues to Contemplate Homosexuality

A while back I posted about a story that detailed how the Pentagon had classified homosexuality as a mental disorder. I suppose, with not much else going on in the world occupying their attention, they have continued their consideration of how to classify gays.

The good news is that homosexuality is no longer considered a mental disorder. Hip hip hooray!

The bad news is that is it considered a defect:

"Among the conditions are stammering or stuttering, dyslexia, sleepwalking, motion sickness, obesity, insect venom allergies and homosexuality."

With this kind of insight into the human condition, or at least one of them, is the mess in Iraq really that much of a surprise?

November 21, 2006

"Gays Keep Separated, Church and State Not"

I ran across this op-ed in the Chicago Tribune written by Geoffrey A. Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago who had a very personal take on same-sex marriage. He has watched his daughter Mollie settle into a very happy long-term relationship with another woman who she cannot legally marry.

He writes about previous restrictions on marriage:

"The institution of marriage has embodied many restrictions over the years since St. Paul. Marriage has been prohibited, for example, to people of different religions and different races. Like the ban on same-sex marriage, those prohibitions were justified by appeals to tradition, natural law and Scripture. In a representative statement, a judge explained miscegenation laws: "Almighty God created the races, white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

Mr. Stone closes with this thought:

"At least with respect to same-sex marriage, our society is about to change. A third of Americans now favor allowing same-sex marriage, and more than half now support same-sex civil commitment. Our nation's greatest achievement has been its ability to recognize and overcome deeply entrenched racial, religious, gender and ethnic discrimination. We will achieve this as well in the realm of sexual orientation. But some of us grow impatient. I'd like to go to Mollie's wedding."

I hope he gets his wish sooner rather than later.

November 20, 2006

Bucking the Southern Baptist Bigots

First Baptist Church in Greensboro is holding fast in its affirming and accepting policies despite a recent decree from the North Carolina State Baptist Convention. The convention decided to no longer affiliate with churches that embrace openly gay members, and even went so far to encourage member congreations to rat out other churches that did so.

First Baptist Church, however, is standing true to its convictions. After the convention's vote, the marquee outside the church read, "We practice confession, not condemnation."

"We try to stay away from labels like 'lesbian' and 'gay'; we just work together in the church in ministry, whether it's building a house for Habitat for Humanity or working for Greensboro Urban Ministry," said Mark File, a gay deacon at College Park. "Decisions like this are missing the point of the church, which is not shutting doors."

It seems like a LOT of churches don't get it these days. I'm glad there are ones like mine and First Baptist Church in Greensboro to shine God's light in the GLBT and all other communities.

November 19, 2006

The AIDS Evangelists

Here is an interesting piece from the Seattle Weekly publication that tells us about the struggle the organization World Vision is having engaging churches as part of the solution to the worldwide problem with AIDS.

Rich Stearns, the director of World Vision, answered the question "Where has the church been?"

"If we honestly ask who are the ones who have taken the lead in fighting against AIDS and showing compassion to its victims, we find a surprising list." He ticked them off: "the homosexual community, Hollywood, rock stars, political liberals, the U.S. government, the United Nations, secular humanitarian organizations, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation."

Some elements of the evangelical community have done worse than ignore the issue, they have incredibly actively opposed more AIDS funding.

"In May of this year, Focus on the Family's James Dobson and 30 other Christian leaders signed a letter to congressional representatives urging them to oppose a proposed increase in U.S. contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, a Swiss-based fund that raises billions of dollars in governmental and private money throughout the world. Among the Global Fund's alleged crimes were ties to philanthropist George Soros, whom the letter linked to "radical causes" like abortion and euthanasia. It also attacked the Global Fund for promoting condoms rather than abstinence and faithfulness. The increase in funding passed anyway."

Gee, what a surprise Dobson was mixed up in that. As usual, Dobson and his ilk are more worried about their base of political power than helping people, and it continues to disgust me that he claims to do so in the name of God.

There is movement from the evangelical community.

"A number of prominent evangelical leaders have turned their attention to the issue, among them Franklin Graham and the Rev. Rick Warren, the best-selling author and pastor of California's populous Saddleback Church, which is about to hold its second annual AIDS conference. World Vision enlisted Kay Warren, the pastor's wife, to make several appearances on its Hope Tour. That same year, evangelicals lent crucial support to a $15 billion, five-year AIDS effort launched by President Bush called the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief."

Please join me in praying that more people turn their focus on God's work of helping to heal those who are sick and preventing more from contracting this horrible disease.