Saturday, October 18, 2014

News Tidbits

WGAL 8: Group offers elective Bible class to public schoolchildren

Religion News Service: Christian group to turn former abortion clinic into memorial garden

Michigan State News: Pro-life student group discusses sexual assault as part of We Care Tour

Pew Research Center: Young U.S. Catholics overwhelmingly accepting of homosexuality

WICS Newschannel 20: Illinois: LGBT Community Protests Outside Catholic Church

Huffington Post: Barry A. Hazle Jr., Atheist, Wins Nearly $2 Million In Settlement Over Faith-Based Rehab Program

Des Moines Register: Bus tour backs candidates who oppose 'anti-family policies'

Newsweek: 'Homoerotic' Orthodox Calendar Protests Anti-LGBT Attitudes in Eastern Church

The Advocate: Right Wing Fails to Stop Gender-Inclusive Training in Nebraska Schools

Akron Beacon Journal: Ernest Angley’s Grace Cathedral rocked by accusations (TRIGGER WARNING)

Commentary Tidbits

Spiritual Sounding Board: Some Christian Leaders are Hijacking the Ebola Crisis to Promote their Theology or Agenda

Salon: Christian right’s vile PR sham: Why their bizarre films are backfiring on them

U.S. News and World Report: What's Driving Homophobia in Africa?

Right Wing Watch: Brian Brown Gets Defensive About His Russia Activism: 'Absolute Lies And Slurs'

Homeschoolers Anonymous: Graham Walker, President of Patrick Henry College, Announced Resignation

Love, Joy, Feminism: HSLDA Explains Its Complicity in Child Abuse Coverup: We’re Not the Police Force of the Homeschooling Movement

Pink News: Ignore the PR, the Catholic Church continues with its grotesque homophobia

Dianna E. Anderson: Whiteness as the Masculine Ideal: The History of Racism in Purity Culture

Spirit Day and Bring Your Bible to School Day

October 16th was Spirit Day, an annual event sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to support LGBTQ youth and condemn bullying. Political leaders, celebrities, news providers, and landmarks were decked out in purple last Thursday as a show of solidarity with LGBTQ young people.

Not surprisingly, Focus on the Family sponsored Bring Your Bible to School Day  on October 16th as well. The Focus on the Family website describes the day as a Day of Dialogue event, bringing to mind the organization's past resistance to LGBTQ youth initiatives. The Day of Dialogue website features conversation cards, banners, and posters that students can download, as well as suggestions for sharing scripture with their schoolmates.

The Bring Your Bible to School Day website describes the event in terms of alleged religious persecution and religious freedom.
"Did you know that students have recently been ordered to stop reading their Bibles during free time at school? Here at Focus on the Family, we believe the Bible is a powerful message of hope and love for humanity—something to be celebrated, not banned. We also believe in the cherished religious freedoms our Founding Fathers fought to protect.

Do you share our desire to reverse this trend and equip the next generation to boldly exercise their religious freedoms—and be unashamed of their biblical beliefs? Then you'll love Focus on the Family's new event for students: Bring Your Bible to School Day on October 16! Students all across the country can stand up and celebrate their religious freedoms together."
Actually, federal regulations do permit students to read holy texts during non-instructional time, as Valerie Strauss points out in a recent Washington Post column, so I'm not sure why Focus on the Family feels that religious freedom is under threat.

Why did Focus on the Family feel the need to host Bring Your Bible to School Day on the same date as Spirit Day? Was this an attempt by anti-gay fundamentalists to compete with an LGBTQ youth initiative? If the positive response to Spirit Day is any indication, Bring Your Bible to School Day hardly drew attention away from its competitor. Our society is growing more enlightened, and Focus on the Family should take note.

To read additional news and commentary, visit the following links.

The New Civil Rights Movement: Anti-Gay Groups Turn Spirit Day Into 'Bring Your Bible To School Day'

The Advocate: The 'Biblical' Response to Spirit Day You Didn't Hear About

Huffington Post: Focus On The Family Sponsors 'Bring Your Bible To School Day', Encourages Students To Talk About Their Faith

Monday, October 13, 2014

News Tidbits

CBS 6: Video captures Christian boarding school life coaches, program director assaulting boy 

Reuters: Scholars Concerned Hobby Lobby Executive's Bible Museum Will Feature Only Protestant Interpretations

Reuters: Leading Vatican cardinal says Catholic Church will never bless gay marriage 

Huffington Post: Cardinal Raymond Burke Takes Break From Vatican Synod To Say Ugly Things About Gay Relationships

NBC News: Evangelicals Warn 2016 Candidates: Don't Support Gay Marriage

The Advocate: NOM Praises Huckabee for Threat to Leave GOP Over Marriage Equality

Al Arabiya News: Witchcraft-related child abuse on the rise in Britain, police say

AsiaOne: Author cited in Focus on the Family Singapore pamphlet responds to controversy 

The Guardian: Children abused amid climate of fear at Australian pentecostal school, commission hears

The Star Press: Fields of Faith draws thousands to Fieldhouse   (Hat tip to Lady Atheist)

Commentary Tidbits

Slaktivist: The Harrowing of Hell House

Spiritual Sounding Board: Bill Gothard’s New Program/Ministry: Total Success Power Teams

LGBTQ Nation: Real Religious Liberty is Not Oppression

Mother Jones: Candidate for Governor in Massachusetts Stars in Huge Russian Anti-Gay Film

Dianna E. Anderson: Toxic Masculinity: The Bro Jesus

Friendly Atheist: If Catholic School Employees Had to Live By The Bible, They’d All Get Fired

Religion Dispatches: Are Evangelical Films Destined to Leave Secular Audiences Behind?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

GOD TV's Wendy Alec Shares Details of Rory Alec's Departure

As discussed in a prior post, GOD TV co-founder Rory Alec recently stepped down as chairman and CEO of the network over a "moral failure" in his marriage. Wendy Alec and other GOD TV staff have addressed the controversy in depth this week, shedding light on Rory Alec's abrupt departure.

In a special message from GOD TV headquarters in Israel, UK board member Andrew White and chief of staff Steve Beik reassured viewers that their mission remained strong. At the 1:41 mark, Beik assured viewers that GOD TV would continue.
"GOD TV as a ministry is here to stay. Our mission has not changed. As an organization, we are called by God to equip the body of Christ in all we do. We're continuing to do that."
At the 2:09 mark, White speculated that Satan played a role in GOD TV's recent controversy.
"It's so important that at a very difficult time like this, we recognize the fact that what we're doing through GOD TV is the very heart of the work of the Almighty. And when the heart of the work of the Almighty is involved, the evil one, the Devil, will always oppose it and try and ruin it and try and destroy it -- not what the television channel is doing, what God is doing."
During a recent edition of GOD TV's Revival Alert, Wendy Alec explained why Rory Alec left the network. She stressed that the two of them had a happy marriage that was "70%" good until Rory started behaving strangely. At the 19:22 mark, she discussed changes in his behavior.
"In March ... something happened ... Rory had been away, and he came in the house ... Up 'til then, everything had been stable and just probably like a lot of your marriages ... He was in the bathroom, and he just said, 'I'm going, and I'm going to France or I'm going to Germany.' He said, 'I'm going to ride the Autobahn,' and he says, 'I'm not telling you where I'm going; you've got no right to ask questions, I'm just going' ... He just said, 'I need space, I need to find my identity, and I need space, I just need space.' You can imagine a wife, okay. My whole world started turning upside down. And the next morning, he just went, and it started a pattern that started to be extremely emotionally traumatic for me, to cope with emotionally, because suddenly my husband started to change in a pattern and in a way I had never seen him act before."
Rory did not want to take part in counseling, Wendy said, and she worried that he was experiencing burnout because of his GOD TV responsibilities. Rory would disappear for weeks at a time, and their marriage grew increasingly strained, she told listeners. When Wendy returned home from the hospital after receiving treatment for a gallbladder infection, Rory left her with friends and went traveling for five weeks, she claimed.

Finally, Wendy discovered that Rory had been having an affair with a divorced woman in Austria, lamenting that "the devil got in very, very easily". Rory had been helping her record a jazz album, she explained, and in the seductive environment of the recording studio, "Jezebel lands on it, that hook". Wendy told listeners that the woman had allegedly heard God say that "Rory was her Mr. Right, that he was her husband". At the 29:42 mark, Wendy claimed that infernal forces plotted against her husband and enticed him into adultery.
"The princes of Hell designed a perfect strategy against him to hook his soul in ... through that seductive Jezebel spirit, and he got hooked in, and he did get hooked in, and what happened, that ended up in adultery."
Rory later stepped down from his leadership role at GOD TV, admitted that he didn't want to be in ministry anymore, and told Wendy that "our marriage is over". Rory is now living on his lover's father's farm in South Africa, Wendy said.

As Wendy continued, she blamed Satan and his minions for her husband's affair and departure from GOD TV. During a prayer, Wendy insisted that her devotion to God and her ministry did not depend on Rory, and that she was ready to lead GOD TV on her own. After a burst of glossolalia, she asserted that GOD TV would continue to wage war against infernal forces that targeted Rory's soul at the 40:23 mark.
"We war in the spirit in GOD TV. We fight against the prince of the power of the air. Okay? Now the prince of the power of the air is the prince of the power of the airwaves. That's our mandate. That is the reason for this battle. That is the reason why the princes of hell have battled for Rory's soul, okay? It's been a battle for Rory's soul."
Wendy walked from her chair to a stone altar in the studio, raging against the "Satanic assault" on her husband and network.

"Father, I prophesy and I thank you, Father ... that from this time forth, that there's going to be the start of a release of a prophetic fire and a prophetic glory and a prophetic mantle, that's going to fall on GOD TV, that Haman -- that is the devil -- is going to be hanged on his own gallows for what has happened here, for this Satanic assault against GOD TV and against Rory and I, in the name of Jesus."
Wendy knelt down before the stone altar, praising God and rebuking Satan.

"Devil, this attack is over! It's finished right now! And we serve you notice in the spirit right here from Jerusalem! We serve you notice in the spirit! There were prophets who saw you cowering earlier, and we say Devil, we are going to be very, very dangerous from this point on, even more dangerous as GOD TV, and we are going to stand Hell in the name of Jesus Christ!"
Later, Kim Clement, a musician and "prophet", talked with Wendy via Skype about Rory's departure. At the 46:42 mark, Clement claimed that Rory was afflicted by a "generational curse" that propelled him into divorce.

"There are curses that we understand, and we've got to be sober about this. The fact is, there is a generational curse that is carried through ... it's definitely attached itself to Rory so that he would continue the family bloodline in what has happened, and that is to go to divorce. What happens is when you make a decision like this, it then is transferred to your children, and so that's the responsibility that we need to understand."
Clement called out to Rory, warning him about the potential impact of his decisions and reminding him of his responsibilities to GOD TV.

I sighed as I listened to Wendy Alec's religious histrionics and the men's wild claims about curses and devils. While I sympathized with Wendy over her husband's adultery and the disintegration of her marriage, I was stunned that she and her colleagues would blame infernal forces for his behavior.

In Wendy Alec and her GOD TV staff, I saw people who struggled to understand Rory Alec's choices. Unable to comprehend Rory's adultery and sudden abandonment of his network, they attributed his actions to diabolical forces, shoehorning recent events into a religious paradigm so that they could make sense of them. The problem is, none of this superstition was helping them understand Rory's choices or make peace with his departure. Wendy, Clement, and the other simply couldn't wrap their heads around the idea that people sometimes choose to commit adultery, or divorce, or take new directions with their careers, sans demonic influence.

Blaming Satan also served to deflect responsibility away from Rory Alec. Unable to accept that their loved one had hurt them, Wendy and the GOD TV staff placed part of the blame on infernal beings who must have been manipulating him. However, no matter how confusing Rory Alec's behavior must have been to his wife and colleagues, his actions were his alone.

I wanted to tell Wendy and her colleagues, Enough superstition. This is childish. None of this is the work of some infernal boogeyman. Rory did not start seeing another woman because of Jezebel's wiles, or because Satan wanted to undermine your network, or because Rory was plagued by a curse. Sometimes, people just make bad choices.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

IOL Tonight: Hell hath no fury on GOD TV

The Inquisitr: God Decides To Mess With God TV, Sends ‘Jezebel’ Jazz Musician To Seduce Founder Rory Alec

The Times of Israel: God TV founder led astray by the devil

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

France: Anti-Gay Demonstrators March in Paris and Bordeaux

In France, Manif Pour Tous recently organized anti-gay marches in two cities to protest same-sex marriage, adoption, surrogacy, and medically assisted procreation. On Sunday, October 5th, thousands of protesters marched in Paris and Bordeaux under the slogan of L'humain N'est Pas Une Marchandise ("A Human Is Not Merchandise"). Photos from the march show people carrying pink and blue flags, with a few pushing shopping carts full of baby dolls in keeping with the "L'humain N'est Pas Une Marchandise" theme. March organizers estimate that 500,000 persons were in attendance, while police estimate that only 70,00 people participated, France24 reports.

According to France24, the march was in response to a September ruling by France's Court of Cassation that recognized same-sex adoption rights for same-sex couples. Previously, some French courts had banned adoption of children who were born outside France to lesbian couples who conceived via in-vitro fertilization, according to the Local.

The Manif Pour Tous website states that marchers called for the universal abolition of surrogacy and restrictions on medically assisted procreation that did not involve fathers. The statement was critical of French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, a supporter of LGBTQ rights, as well as the pro-LGBTQ Law 2013-404, which it derisively called the "Taubira Marriage Act".

A press release from Manif Pour Tous condemns "threats to the family" and "deconstruction of family policy" that allegedly accompany same-sex marriage, adoption, and conception. Ludovine La Rochere, president of Manif Pour Tous, blasted reproductive rights for same-sex couples.
"Notre civilisation s'est construite sur le respect des droits d'autrui. Or justement, les droits des uns s'arrêtent là où commencent ceux des autres, en l'occurrence ceux des femmes et ceux des enfants."

"Our civilization is built on respect for the rights of others. Or indeed, the rights of one end where those of others begin, namely those of women and children's." 
The France protests remind us that affronts to LGBTQ rights take many forms. Opponents of LGBTQ equality have targeted not only same-sex marriage, but adoption and reproductive measures by same-sex couples.

Commentary Tidbits

Heresy in the Heartland: The Mask of Modesty

National Catholic Reporter: Spare the spanking, respect the child 

The New Civil Rights Movement: RNC Chair Just Praised Hate Group Head On Gay Marriage: 'Tony Perkins Is Right'

Right Wing Watch: Huckabee Urges States To Ignore Rulings On Marriage Equality, Abortion Rights & Church-State Separation

Human Rights Campaign: 19 Members of Congress Inducted into HRC’s Hall of Shame