Archive for Current Events
From last Saturday’s Fresno Bee, via Box Turtle Bulletin, comes this little snippet about a straight religious woman, Renee, and her boss Michael, a gay man planning to wed his partner of 16 years. The money quote is at the end.
DeMusiak, 52, the florist shop employee, grew up with the idea that marriage meant only a man and a woman.
“I just always went by the Bible. Mom is mom and dad is dad. I was never really for gays getting married,” she says.
But in November, she plans to vote against the ban and for same-sex marriage.
She had only worked at Chase Flower Shop for two months when her dog got sick and needed expensive medical care.
“Michael gave me his credit card and told me to take care of her,” she says. “I’d never vote against him.”
She says her own search for a mate has been the stuff of blues songs: cheating men, hurt, and true love never arriving.
“I’m struggling to find someone. I see gay couples come in here all the time who have had better luck than me. It’s so important to have someone love you for who and what you truly are,” she says.
“I know religion is really going to come down on this one, but I just don’t think I can be opposed any more. I vote for people to be happy.”
It’s been quite a while since we’ve done a program examining the gay marriage issue. Our last treatment included the voices of 2 self-described evangelicals—Richard Mouw, the president of Fuller Seminary, and Virginia Mollencott, a Professor Emeritus at William Patterson University. We wanted to frame the conversation in the terms most often used in our culture to discuss it, so we chose two evangelicals. But we also wanted to go beyond the yelling and meanness of the debate, which may have reached a peak about the time we did the show. I think we succeeded.
But along with a good amount of positive feedback, and despite our deliberately conciliatory approach, we heard from people form all “sides” that we had hurt them, or offended them, or otherwise inflamed them. I mention this not to say I think we did it wrong, but because to me it’s a measure of how much pain people are in on this topic.
With the California ruling recently, the door is open to that state beginning to marry gays and lesbians as early as next week, and we have asked ourselves what our next forway into the subject might be. It seems clear there has been a great deal of movement in the last couple of years. Witness, for example, a press release that crossed my desk this morning about GLBT families, led by Jay Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Faye) attending services on Father’s Day at Saddleback Church (Rick Warren’s church) and then meeting with its leaders. That perhaps would not have happened a few years ago.
What are your thoughts about how to cover this issue? Share your thoughts here if you have some.
The Father’s Day visit Kate mentions is the American Family Outing, a series of events being held this spring by Soulforce in order to establish dialogue between LGBT families and six of the country’s largest Evangelical churches and their leaders. The previous five visits have been incredibly successful, and many have ended with pledges to continue the conversation and build on the relationships that were formed.
I’ve got an idea, Kate. Perhaps Speaking of Faith could bring together members of the American Family Outing and leaders from the churches they visited at some point, say six months down the road, in a forum that encourages continuation of this dialogue? That’s a program I’d really like to hear. (Of course, I’m such a fan that you know I’ll be listening regardless!)
I’ve been weeping since I read the news at CNN.
The 5-year-old daughter of Grammy-winning Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman was struck and killed Wednesday by a sport utility vehicle driven by her brother, authorities said.
The girl, Maria Sue, was hit in the driveway of the family’s home Wednesday afternoon by a Toyota Land Cruiser driven by her teenage brother, said Laura McPherson, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
On a blog set up for the public to leave messages of support, Chapman’s manager wrote,
Your prayers are needed for all in the Chapman family. This is a family who has so generously loved and given to so many. Just hours before this close knit family was celebrating the engagement of the oldest daughter Emily Chapman, and were just hours away from a graduation party marking Caleb Chapman’s completion of high school. Now, they are preparing to bury a child who blew out 5 candles on a birthday cake less than 10 days ago. These words are unthinkable to type.
I can barely type through the tears. Steven’s music has meant so much to me over the years, and his commitment to his wife and family have been a great inspiration to me. During my last year at Truett Seminary he led our chapel services once and I was so blessed to share that with him. Teary-eyed from the service, I approached him to shake his hand, and he reached out and gave me a big hug.
Steven, Mary Beth, and family–you are in my prayers today and into the future. You are so deeply loved.
When Tel Aviv city councilman Itai Pinkas was in Amsterdam last year, he stared for a long time at the monument honoring homosexuals killed in the Holocaust, sensing its impact was going to stay with him for a long time.
When he got back to Tel Aviv, he took that powerful feeling and raced straight to Mayor Ron Huldai’s office to talk.
Now, Pinkas and Huldai have revealed the outcome of the meeting: Tel Aviv is going to be home to the country’s first memorial to gay victims of Nazi persecution. The public sculpture is slated to go up in the centrally located Gan Meir by midwinter.
According to the article, Tel Aviv will soon open what is thought to be the first LGBT community center in the world to be financed and run by the local government. The mayor’s comments touched me:
The gay community in Tel Aviv is very significant in numbers and contributions to the city’s cultural life and economy, and there is no reason why the local government should not give necessary services crucial to these citizens. Also, some people have bad experience sharing their being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and others are understandably afraid to do so, so this place will be an open and safe haven for them.
Under these circumstances, we cannot find that retention of the traditional definition of marriage constitutes a compelling state interest.
California State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron George, writing for the majority in today’s ruling in favor of marriage equality.
And a comment from me: Thank you, Lord. Let justice roll.
Please understand my reasons for not blogging today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.
What are you going to do to end the silence?
Received this week from Soulforce (emphasis mine):
In 2007, the United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council ruled that a newly-transitioned transgender pastor, Rev. Drew Phoenix of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Baltimore, could continue to serve his church, as his congregation desires. However, because church law makes no reference to transgender people, the Judicial Council referred the broader question of whether transgender ministers are eligible for clergy appointments to the church’s main legislative body, the United Methodist General Conference, which will convene in Fort Worth, Texas, April 23-May 2.
The judicial council’s ruling has inspired both inclusive and discriminatory legislative proposals. A coalition of progressive organizations within the church have proposed expanding the church’s statement of civil rights to affirm support for “all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.” The coalition has also proposed amending the church’s membership rules to state: “no person shall or will be excluded from baptized or professing membership in the United Methodist Church for reasons related to sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Unfortunately, anti-LGBT organizations have proposed legislation that is misinformed and discriminatory. One such proposal comes from the leader of an ex-gay ministry:
“Therefore, be it resolved, that in faithfulness to Scripture and Christian/Jewish tradition about God’s gift of male and female, and out of deep compassion for persons struggling with gender and sexual identity issues, we do not recognize transgenderism or transsexuality as part of God’s good intentions for humankind and we oppose sex reassignment therapy (hormonal or surgical) as a solution to these conditions.”
Another piece of legislation, introduced by an employee of the right-wing Institute for Religion and Democracy, would make simply “identifying as transgender” a “chargeable offense” for clergy.
The United Methodist Church is the 2nd largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. The impact of this General Conference will resound beyond the denomination and ultimately affect conversations about civil rights.
Soulforce is organizing an opportunity for delegates to the UMC General Conference to meet with transgender people and their allies this Friday. More information is available here. Christianity Today also has coverage.