December 30, 2006

"In the Heartland and Out of the Closet"

Sometimes the religioius right is its own worst enemy. This story from the New York Times clearly illustrates that point. The story talks about a recent trend in the state of Kansas, where more and more gay and lesbian people are coming out of the closet following the passing of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. From the Times:

(There is) a dramatic shift that has taken hold lately among gay and bisexual Kansans, many of them well into midlife and ensconced in long-term relationships. An energized culture of coming out has emerged, apparently in reaction to what many see as the anti-gay climate that led to the marriage ban.

The gay rights movement was slow to make its debut in Kansas, but during the last two years it has developed with an intensity that has surprised even its leaders. Kansas, which has approximately 73,000 openly gay and bisexual adults, according to Mr. Gates’s estimates, had no statewide gay rights organization until late 2004.

Imagine that, the state that gave us anti-gay bigot Fred Phelps (please, take him back) has a GLBT population that is alive, well, and beginning to make its presence felt.

December 29, 2006

Progress In Oregon

Basic Rights Oregon, a GLBT activist organizaiton, applauded recommendations recently made by the state's Governors Task Force on Equality. From the post on the organization's blog:

In a statement released by the Governor's office, Governor Kulongoski said, "This is about basic questions of fairness and equity under the law," said the Governor. "We must continue to strive to make Oregon a state of economic and social opportunity for all of our citizens, regardless of race, gender, religion, age or sexual orientation."

The task force's report is linked in the BRO post if you're interested in details. There's some good work being done in Oregon.

December 28, 2006

New Documentary: "For the Bible Tells Me So"

Joel Heller, a media consultant who writes the blog "Docs That Inspire," was kind enough to alert me to a podcast interview he did with Daniel Karslake, the director of the new documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So." For this project, Karslake tells the stories of five Christian families struggling to reconcile their religious beliefs with the reality that a member of their family is gay.

The documentary is being screened at the Sundance Film Festival next month so it will receive some BIG TIME exposure. I commend Karslake for taking on this project and wish him all the best with the film.

Here are some brief excerpts from the interview.

"I wanted to take the view of people who had started out on one side of the issue and wound up on the other side."

"One thing I really have a problem with is people who use the Bible when they haven't even read it, they're just using what someone told them it said."

"I don't want to tell people what to think.....I want to give them another option in the discussion. As long as discussion takes place, we on the road to acceptance."

December 27, 2006

"Wanted: More Ministers Like Vincent Fields" NOT

The title came along with a story in The Christian Post that featured the actions of a minister who gave the invocation before a recent session of the New Jersey Senate. On a day when the Senate was considering the bill that would grant civil unions to same-sex couples after a court ruling mandated them to do so, Vincent Fields prayed:

"We curse the spirit that would come to bring about same-sex marriage. We ask You to just look over this place today, cause them to be shaken in their very heart in uprightness, Lord, to do what is right before You."

More from the report in the Christian Post:

He (Fields) said he didn't intend to say anything about gay marriage, but "[t]he Holy Spirit took over." Fields was unapologetic about his prayer, arguing: "We're living in a time now where we've got to take a stand spiritually. We're literally setting ourselves up for God to turn His back on us, and if we do, we'll have the chaos of other countries, in this country."

That's right, let gays marry and all hell will break loose. We might have rampant crime, poverty, adultery, drug usage and various other sins. Well, this just in; those things already exist! THAT's where our religious leaders need to take a spiritual stand rather than turning a prayer into a grandstanding political speech.

Same-sex marriage or any other granting of equal rights to GLBT people will not tear apart the very fabric of society--that ship has already sailed.

Instead of working to minister to a society horribly in need of spiritual guidance and strong moral leadership, men like Vincent Fields are too busy playing politics.

Isn't counting on political leaders to establish and enforce clear moral guidlines for this nation a bit like the fox watching the proverbial henhouse?

December 26, 2006

The Far Right Wing is Regrouping

Newt Gingrich, the author of the 1994 "Contract With America" which helped the Republican Party to a landslide victory in that year's elections and changed the political landscape in the U. S., is trying to lead a comeback for the right-wing nut constituency of the party.

According to this column in the Lawrence KS World-Journal, he has come up with another Contract With America. From the report:

The third plank in the platform promoted by potential presidential wannabe Newt Gingrich reads: “Recenter on the Creator from Whom all our liberties come. We will insist on a judiciary that understands the centrality of God in American history and reasserts the legitimacy of recognizing the Creator in public life.”

Call me cynical and paranoid, but I read into that Ten Commandments displays in every public courtroom. The Lord’s Prayer recited in unison in every public school classroom. Inquisitions into judicial nominees’ personal creeds to guarantee hostility toward abortion and gay marriage. More pointless fights over the essentiality of uttering “under God” to the very survival of the Republic.

And none of that will bring us any closer to liberty and justice for all.

Especially if you are a GLBT person. I recommend checking out the entire column, but I want to post the wonderful conclusion here:

What we need from our leaders aren’t platitudes and the pretense of promoting “values.” What we need are honesty, integrity and policies that are fair and sensible, and that make it possible for even the least among us to live with dignity. Because that’s the right thing to do.

Can I hear an amen to that?

Thanks to PageOneQ for the link.

December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

That's probably the most right-wing friendly thing I've ever written on this blog :)

I'm taking a few moments out from holiday festivities with Pastor Brenda to reflect on what Christmas Day is and is not all about.

It's not about fighting crowds at the mall to buy the hot gift of the year.

It is about the miracle of the virgin birth, when God planted the seed within the Virgin Mary to birth His Son.

It's not about who can put together the gaudiest display of Christmas decorations and win an award for best on their block.

It is about enjoying the beauty of a snow covered hillside, driving through a festival of lights, or being snuggled up in front of a fireplace with someone you love, taking time to be grateful for how God has blessed you this past year.

It's not about being angry at your current situation if you are alone, poor, sick, or all of the above. God did not bring his Son into this world for those who believe in him to merely struggle through life. He doesn't want that for any of us, and if we seek Him, He will lead us out of those chains that bind us in mediocrity or worse.

It is about receiving the hope and love that led God to send His Son to us. As someone who has lived through the separation and death of both parents and a spouse, divorce, and financial ruin among other things, I can directly attest to that. Thanks to the strength He gave me, I have an appreciation of how much God loves me and an ever-growing faith in Him and His plan for my life and that of all who turn to Him.

If you're not feeling that this Christmas season, it's on you. He's available to you, but you need to reach out and grab all that he offers your heart and soul. Take time this Christmas to reach back.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Jim and Pastor Brenda