Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Abortion Matrix

The Forerunner, a conservative Christian media group, released an anti-abortion film this fall entitled The Abortion Matrix: Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death. Featuring commentary from Biblical patriarchy supporter R.C. Sproul Jr., Operation Save America leader Flip Benham, anti-abortion advocate Rusty Thomas, and New Apostolic Reformation speaker Lou Engle, The Abortion Matrix demonizes abortion with inflammatory rhetoric. After watching several excerpts on YouTube, I found that the film not only relies on fear of paganism, but unwittingly reveals the politics behind the radical anti-abortion movement.

Rather than offer reasoned arguments about why they believe abortion to be unethical, the creators of The Abortion Matrix resort to fear and horror. The film dubiously correlates abortion with pagan child sacrifice and witchcraft, as evidenced in commentary at the Forerunner about Wiccan cooperation with women's health clinics. In one video excerpt from The Abortion Matrix, the narrator refers to the 15th century treatise Malleus Maleficarum as evidence of the concern over supposedly widespread witchcraft and child sacrifice in medieval times. (Interestingly, I didn't hear much commentary on the Malleus Maleficarum's misogyny, advocacy of torture for alleged "witches", and strong role in the brutal European witch craze.) It is telling that the film glances back at the European witch craze, which was rooted in hatred of women and sexual anxieties. Perhaps the same pathologies drive the present-day radical anti-abortion movement?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christian Eschatologies and the Environment

On Saturday, November 20th, I drove to Messiah College in Grantham, PA to hear two lectures on environmental issues. The first lecture, which charted the history of global warming research over the past two centuries, was delivered by Dr. Spencer R. Weart. The second lecture, “Christianity and Climate Change: Understanding the Range of Responses”, was delivered by Dr. Janel Curry of Calvin College. Both lectures were engaging and vitally relevant, but because the latter lecture falls more within the scope of this blog, I will devote attention to it here.

Curry observed that contemporary Christian dialogue about the environment flourished after the publication of Lynn White Jr.'s 1967 article, "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis", which argued that Judeo-Christian beliefs have been detrimental to the environment. Curry argued that the relationship between Christianity and attitudes toward the natural world are much more complex, and that the religion has much to say about climate change. Many factors, rather than a single causal factor, shape one's attitudes toward the environment.

Curry examined three variables that shape Christians' relationship with the natural world: (1) eschatology (beliefs about the future and end times), (2) integration (how religious traditions imagine the relationship between humans, nature, and God), and (3) responsibility (who is seen as ultimately responsible for social change, and how this change is brought about).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Commentary Tidbits

Truth Wins Out: Hate Groups Waiting in the Wings

Prop 8 Trial Tracker: NOM Opposing Civil Unions in Illinois: "We just don't like the gays"

Religion Dispatches: Glenn Beck Hijacks It’s a Wonderful Life 

Ms. Magazine: I Am Biblical Woman, Hear Me Roar?

Right Wing Watch: Tea Party Leaders Urge GOP to Keep DADT and Defund Planned Parenthood

Friendly Atheist: A Creation Museum Theme Park Contest

An Apostate's Chapel: Clueless Conservative Christian

News Tidbits

Huffington Post: Israel Finds Common Cause With Evangelicals

Huffington Post: Mike Huckabee Lauds Ousting of Iowa Judges Who Agrreed with Decision to Strike Gay Marriage Ban

NPR: Culture War Brewing Within Tea Party?

AOL News: Georgia Preacher Leads Anti-Gay Crusade in Uganda

LGBTQ Nation: Parents Fight School's Anti-Bullying Curriculum Because It Teaches LGBT Tolerance

Public Religion Research Institute: Findings from the 2010 Post-Election American Values Survey

SPLC: 18 Anti-Gay Groups and their Propaganda

SPLC: 10 Anti-Gay Myths Debunked

CNN: Another Bishop Long Controversy Erupts

Irish Times: Theologian says much of Catholic clergy is gay

Monday, November 22, 2010

Southern Poverty Law Center Adds to List of Anti-Gay Hate Groups

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) will be adding five new organizations to its list of hate groups next year: the American Family Association, Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, Family Research Council, Illinois Family Institute, and Dove World Outreach Center. According to the SPLC, these organizations were selected based on their propagation of known falsehoods about homosexuality and the LGBT community.

For additional information and commentary on this decision, visit the following links:

SPLC: 18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda

Truth Wins Out: SPLC Designates American Family Association, Family Research Council, Illinois Family Institute As Hate Groups

Zack Ford Blogs: It's Official: AFA, FRC, and Other Anti-Gay Orgs are Hate Groups

Good As You: SPLC Hate Groups: 5 More Anti-LGBT Orgs to Enter Annals

Joe.My.God: Southern Poverty Law Center Adds Family Research Council & American Family Association to Its Anti-Gay Hate Groups List

Sam Seder at Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor Rally

(Hat tip to Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

At Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor Rally in Washington D.C. this summer, Sam Seder interviewed attendees about their political views. The results are jaw-dropping. (Click here if you're having trouble viewing the video.)

At the 0:21 mark, Seder talks with a woman about separation of church and state.

SEDER: What does Restoring Honor mean to you?

WOMAN IN YELLOW SHIRT: Restoring Honor? I guess it means trying to go back to live the actual Constitution. There doesn't need to be a separation of God and church. I think that a lot of our problems have to do with taking God out of the schools and separating it all.

SEDER: But from a Constitutional standpoint, isn't there supposed to be separation of church and state?

WOMAN IN YELLOW SHIRT: Well, I need to take a Constitution class, I will admit that. I have signed up for one starting in October so I can learn more. I don't admit to knowing everything about the Constitution . . .

SEDER: Let me asking you about--because you're hear, you feel like we've gotten away from the Constitution. What happens if you take that course about the Constitution and find out there's stuff in there you don't like?

WOMAN IN YELLOW SHIRT: Then, I will--I don't know what I'll do.
At the 2:06 mark, we hear a young man misunderstanding the concept of rule of the majority.

MAN IN BLACK SHIRT: . . . We have states right now like California. The judge over-passing what the people wanted as gay rights for gay marriage. People said they didn't want it. Seventy percent of them said they didn't want it. The judge goes in there -- oh, we'll pass it.

SEDER: Well, he says it's because the Constitution says equal rights for everybody.

MAN IN BLACK SHIRT: Yeah, but it also says the majority wins, and the majority of the people in that state don't want it, then they shouldn't have it. They can come to Ohio.

:: sighs ::

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Commentary Tidbits

Dad's Primal Scream: No You Don't

Gaytheist Agenda: Mormons and Gays: Electroshock and Suicides

Godless Girl: Faith Healing Debunked . . . By Christians

On the Issues: Fighting the Black Anti-Abortion Campaign: Trusting Black Women

Zack Ford Blogs: Will Catholics Ever Admit The Church Has a Problem?

Media Matters: Beck: The European Union is "building a new world order" and aiming for "an affront to God"

Salon: Anti-Gay Group Targets Gay TSA Workers

RH Reality Check: USCCB Passes Over "Obama-Lover and Homosexualist" for "Strict Defender of Church Orthodoxy"

RH Reality Check: "Honest Reproductive Care" At Center of New York City Crisis Pregnancy Center Debate

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Perkins: Blacks, Hispanics Too Bigoted to Serve with Gays

Mother Jones: The Coming Tea Party Civil War

Right Wing Watch: Religious Right Blasts GOProud For Trying To Co-Opt Movement and Destroy Society

Think Progress: Amidst National Islamophobic Upheaval, Arizonans Protest Mosque That’s Actually A Church

Good As You: Newsweek Paints Brian Brown's Portrait; We Fill In a Few Holes

Talk to Action: Denver, Keep Fighting and Educating About CUFI

Louisiana Coalition for Science: Hell just froze over in Louisiana

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Massachusetts hate group angry at teachers who shared coming out experiences

Truth Wins Out: Alan Chambers: ‘Homosexuality Will Disappoint You’ and is a Counterfeit

Religion Dispatches: Sex and Civilization: The Body as Battleground

News Tidbits

The Minnesota Independent: Meet David Barton, Bachmann's Constitution Class Teacher

The Minnesota Independent: LGBT issues poised to be hot debate at the capitol

The Advocate: Prop. 8. Arguments to be Televised

The Advocate: Osteen Tries to Clarify Antigay Remarks

Edge Boston: NOM, GOP lawmakers threaten marriage equality in New Hampshire

Edge Boston: Catholic Bishops’ Vote to Mean Harder Church Stance Against Gay Families

Politico: CPAC under fire over gay conservative group

San Fransisco Appeal: Anti Gay Student Group Loses Claim Against Hastings Law School

Toronto Sun: Pastor denounces transgender bill

Los Angeles Times: LDS Church responds to claims of changes in church policy regarding homosexuality

Pink Paper: Nuns corner bishops over lack of gay teen support

Salon: Florida pastor leads small anti-mosque protest in NYC

Minnesota Public Radio: Catholic school paper deletes student editorials on Catholic DVD, gay teens

Advocate Capitol News Bureau: Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to consider textbooks on Dec. 7-9

WISTV 10: South Carolina Southern Baptists urge pastors to preach against homosexuality

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Goodnight, Dear Martyrs

Today is the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day for reflection on hate crimes against transgender people. Across the nation, communities are hosting vigils to mourn the murders of transgender hate crime victims, and I attended one such vigil this evening.

TransCentral PA, Equality Pennsylvania, the LGBT Community Center Coalition of Central Pennsylvania, and other organizations hosted a vigil on the steps of the capitol building in Harrisburg, PA this evening. Dozens of attendees gathered in a circle, with Silent Witness Peacekeepers forming a protective rim outside the circle. The mood was humble, reverent, full of sorrow but also full of hope for a better future.

Various speakers discussed transphobic violence, the deaths of individual victims, their respect for brave transgender friends, and the importance of remembering those who have passed. After the sun set, a group of volunteers with candles read accounts of individual hate crime victims, blowing out their candles one by one. A woman from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape discussed the prevalence of sexual violence against transgender people and the fact that transphobic hate crimes often have sexual elements. At various points in the vigil, a young poet read poetry that mourned the snuffing out of innocent lives. One poem, lamenting the murders of victims who were ahead of their time, ended with the line, "Goodnight, dear martyrs, goodnight."

Goodnight, dear martyrs, goodnight.

Transphobic discrimination and violence must stop. Until that day comes, we must not forget the transgender victims of hate crimes, and we must continue to struggle for justice. Anything less would dishonor the innocent dead.

When Religious Right figures demonize LGBT people, or condemn hate crime legislation, or begrudge rights to LGBT citizens, do they understand that they are promoting harmful transphobia -- and that transphobia has deadly consequences around the world?

For additional commentary on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, visit the links below:

International Transgender Day of Remembrance

Human Rights Campaign: Transgender Day of Remembrance

GLAAD Blog: What Does Transgender Day of Remembrance Mean to You – Q&A with Ethan St. Pierre

Edge Boston: Activists Differ Over Transgender Day of Remembrance's Tone

RH Reality Check: Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance

The DV8: International Transgender Day of Remembrance

Friday, November 19, 2010

FIGHT! Conference in Los Angeles

The International House of Prayer, TheCall, and the Luke 18 Project hosted the FIGHT! Conference in Los Angeles on November 11-13. Geared toward youth, the FIGHT! Conference featured New Apostolic Reformation speakers such as Lou Engle, his son Jesse Engle, Cindy Jacobs, Brian Kim, and more.

To watch the full event online at GOD TV, click here. I skipped through the video, listening here and there to young people praying passionately for conversions on college campuses. From time to time, an attendee would pray into the microphone, some working themselves into tearful repentance or prayerful ecstasy. Young people bowed or rocked back in forth in devotion as Cindy Jacob beseeched God to guide them and Lou Engle urged them to pray for their schools.

CEDAW Draws Fire from the Religious Right

(UPDATED 11/19/10)

Today, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) chaired a hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law on whether the U.S. should ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Adopted in 1979 by the U.N. General Assembly, CEDAW affirms the political, civil, economic, and social rights of women. Currently, 186 countries have ratified the convention, but the U.S., Iran, Sudan, and Syria are among a handful of nations that have yet to do so. President Jimmy Carter signed CEDAW in 1979, and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations later approved it, but it has never been officially ratified by the U.S. By ratifying the convention, the U.S. would thereby agree to undertake measures to end discrimination against women. Respected voices have urged the U.S. to ratify CEDAW, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

What's not to admire about a convention that affirms the full human rights of women? Who wouldn't want to condemn discrimination and human rights violations against half of humanity? Unfortunately, key organizations among the Religious Right think otherwise.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Books from the Religious Right: MARRIAGE UNDER FIRE by James Dobson

At several Religious Right events, I noticed free copies of James Dobson's 2004 book Marriage Under Fire: Why We Must Win This Battle. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, pours his antipathy toward LGBT rights into this small, 123-page book. Saturated with homophobia, Marriage Under Fire is an alarmist collection of stereotypes and scare tactics meant to reinforce the biases of its right-wing audience. For more progressive readers seeking to understand the religious right, the book distills common fundamentalist arguments against LGBT rights, exposing the hatred and fear behind them.

Dobson begins by waxing poetic about the heterosexual family. Claiming that something mystical and intrinsic in human nature draws men and women together, he asserts that passion finds its fulfillment in marriage. Dobson describes heterosexual marriage as a divinely-ordained institution that has formed the foundation of every society in history. (Marriage Under Fire ignores the fact that many kinds of family structures have existed throughout cultures and time periods.) None of the cultures that permitted homosexuality survived, he claims, citing Sodom and Gomorrah, ancient Greece, and Rome. The fact that societies decline for complex reasons, or that all societies rise and fall over time are ignored, as homosexuality is a much simpler scapegoat. Heterosexual marriage is the foundation of human social order, he insists, and "tampering" with marriage by allowing same-sex unions will utterly destroy civilization.

Dobson lambastes European nations that have permitted same-sex marriage, claiming that the institution of marriage is "dying" in those countries and mind-boggling percentages of children are being born out of wedlock there. His disgust also extends to feminists, "liberal lawmakers", and the entertainment industry who have supposedly chipped away at marriage.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Good Reads: EX-GAY NO WAY by Jallen Rix

After partaking of Jallen Rix's workshop at the 2010 Soulforce Symposium in Philadelphia, I purchased a copy of his 2010 book, Ex-Gay No Way: Survival and Recovery from Religious Abuse. In the book, Rix describes his experiences in reparative therapy, his ultimate rejection of the ex-gay movement, and his journey to sexual and spiritual wholeness. More than a simple condemnation of reparative therapy, Ex-Gay No Way explores the dynamics of religious abuse and religious dependency, pointing to healthier paths that allow for spiritual maturity and the integration of sexuality and faith.

Raised in a loving and devout Southern Baptist home, Rix acknowledges both the delights and constraints of living in a conservative Christian community. Early on in his upbringing, young Rix learned that his Baptist religion saw sex outside heterosexual marriage as a sin, creating inner conflict about his own budding homosexuality. Devoted to his loving family and community, he dared not reveal his homosexual feelings for fear of his community's rejection.

In young adulthood, Rix was conflicted about his gay encounters and homosexual feelings. Guilt drove him to an ex-gay program in Los Angeles called Desert Streams, which claimed that participants could be washed clean of their same-sex attraction and become "new creatures in Christ". Combining pop psychology, disdain for unrepentant homosexuals, and evangelical Christianity, Desert Streams became Rix's weekly destination for the next eight months. However, Rix quickly observed that participants were not becoming heterosexual, and that the ministry's theory of homosexuality as a result of abuse or poor parenting didn't correspond with reality. In time, he observed elements of religious abuse in the program, such as us-versus them thinking and conflation of the will of leaders with the will of God. After disappointment with Desert Streams and a failed exorcism, Rix left the ex-gay group and began to explore his sexuality in a more open-minded way. Finally, while at a church planning meeting, he felt the divine voice quietly telling him not to worry about his sexual orientation, assuring him that God was still with him. This realization -- that God loved him and did not condemn his homosexuality -- liberated Rix from his fears of rejection, allowing him to nurture his spirituality without repression or fear.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Demons, Glitter, and a Guy on the Floor: My Experience with an Apostolic Prayer Group

(UPDATED 11/14/10)

Much attention has been devoted to a fundamentalist religious movement called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). NAR is a network of charismatic Christian ministries that rose from the independent Charismatic movement, known as Third Wave Christianity. C. Peter Wagner was responsible for constructing its basic theology, and figures such as Lou Engle and Cindy Jacobs have expanded and marketed the movement. During the 2008 presidential election, the movement received media attention because of Sarah Palin's reported ties to a NAR preacher.

As Bruce Wilson at Talk to Action explains, the New Apostolic Reformation has a far-reaching and radical fundamentalist agenda:

The major tenets of the adherents of this sect include the belief that we are living in the final years before the return of Christ. However, they differ from dispensationalists in their belief that they must defeat evil on the earth and purify the existing churches before Jesus can return. Furthermore, the building of this “Kingdom of God” is not to be delayed until after the Rapture, or to be built in a heavenly sphere. They believe that they have a mandate to build the Kingdom in the present and in the physical realm. In preparation for this task, this final generation is being “imparted” with special supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit that will allow them to wage spiritual warfare and take control of the earth from the devil and an array of demons. The church must be unified under the leadership of their apostles and prophets. The mandate for building the Kingdom includes their current Seven Mountains strategy for the taking control over government, arts and entertainment, media, education, family, religion, and business.

This effort includes extensive mission work around the globe featuring their well developed spiritual warfare strategies which have been published in books and videos. The goal of these spiritual warfare tactics is to take cities and communities from the territorial demons that control theses geographic areas and that they believe prevent their efforts in planting their own Apostolic churches. Spiritual warfare around the globe includes the goal of taking control of cities through the expulsion of witches and demons, and the conversion of Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and all other religions. They also believe that there must be a civil war in the Protestant church in order for them to purify that institution before Jesus can return. The movement has an extensive focus on youth, with several leaders specifically prophesying that those born after 1973 are to be the trainers and warriors for God’s army.

For me, the NAR movement is not a nebulous faction somewhere far away, but a movement I've seen in my own region with my own eyes. I normally don't discuss my personal life on the blog, but for this topic I'll make an exception. Years ago, my former friend Derek* became a born-again Christian, and his faith grew increasingly fundamentalist as the years went on. After joining a rural Apostolic church, he started attending an Apostolic prayer group that some of his Christian friends were frequenting. When I visited Derek in summer 2009, he invited me to attend the prayer group with him on a Saturday evening. Curious, and knowing how eager he was to participate, I agreed.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Daddy I Do

(UPDATED 11/16/10)

RH Reality Check just ran a review of the documentary Daddy I Do, released this year by Jaye Bird Productions. Up and coming filmmaker Cassie Jaye examines Christian abstinence-only programs and the "purity" movement, asking if these programs really arm young people with the knowledge they need to make good sexual decisions. The documentary looks at issues such as faith, patriarchy, relationships, self-esteem, teen pregnancy, abortion, sexual abuse. (Click here if you're having trouble viewing the video.)

Check the Jaye Bird Productions website for upcoming screenings of Daddy I Do. There is currently a waiting list for those who want to obtain a copy of the documentary.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Commentary Tidbits

Frank Schaeffer at Alternet: How Republicans and Their Big Business Allies Duped Tens of Millions of Evangelicals into Voting for a Corporate Agenda
(Hat tip to Paul at Cafe Philos)

Frank Schaeffer at the Huffington Post: "End Times" -- Election Results Reflect Biblical Republican Paranoia

Jews on First: Inside CUFI's 2010 Washington "Summit"

Seattle Times: Pharmacy Board's New Motto Could Be "We Judge"

The Advocate: The Message From Iowa 

Mother Jones: The Fierce Urgency of Sows

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Religious right blames 'civil rights' for situation involving kidnapped child

Religion Dispatches: Man-Made Climate Change Not Possible, Says Potential Energy Committee Chair

Religion Dispatches: Rehabilitating McCarthy: Doug Phillips’ Festival Award

Think Progress: Oklahoma Voters May Have Accidentally Voted Against Ten Commandments, Too

Right Wing Watch: Cindy Jacobs Prophesies a Third Party Led By Marco Rubio

Right Wing Watch: The Annual War On Christmas Gets Under Way

Ms. Magazine: The Anti-Abortion Clinic Across the Street

Washington Post: When religion is the bully

Washington Post: The God Vote: What Evangelicals Want Next

Huffington Post: Why the Religious Right Will Dominate

LGBTQ Nation: Colt David Hansen: Clash with Mormon Faith Leads to Another LGBT Suicide in Utah 

News Tidbits

St. Charles Patch: Students Who Wore 'Straight Pride' T-Shirts During Gay Bullying Awareness Week Will Not Be Punished

Amnesty International: Ugandan gay rights activist: “I have to watch my back more than ever”

NPR: Anti-Abortion Activist On Trial For 'Wanted' Posters

Winston-Salem Journal: Limit flags, group says

Edge Boston: Belgian Archbishop Hit with Pie After AIDS, Pedophile Priests Comments

WSOC TV: Pastor Flip Benham Convicted Of Stalking Doctor Who Performs Abortions

New York Times: In Efforts to End Bullying, Some See Agenda

Beliefnet: Conservatives Send a Warning Shot in Ousting Iowa Judges

Edge Boston: Poll: Some say homosexuality can be changed

Edge Boston: Protesters to Greet Americans for Truth Banquet

Nightline Segment on Ex-Gay Program

In the wake of last weekend's NARTH and Soulforce conferences in Philadelphia, the media has devoted some attention to the ex-gay movement. On Monday, November 8th, ABC's Nightline featured a segment on ex-gay programs. Specifically, Nightline focused on a Journey into Manhood retreat, the same program infiltrated by Ted Cox in his expose, My Journey into Manhood. To watch the segment, click here and begin at the 6:30 mark.

I appreciate how Nightline acknowledged the program founders' lack of qualifications, as well as the negative experiences of two ex-gay program survivors. Still, I was disappointed in how shallow Nightline's research was. The segment took little time to explore the the trauma many ex-gay program survivors report, as well as how many ex-gay programs conflate sexual orientation with stereotypical gender roles.

To boot, I was stunned that Nightline made no mention of the large role of Religious Right organizations in spearheading the ex-gay movement. Are they aware of the many conservative faith-based ex-gay organizations, such as Exodus, JONAH, Desert Streams Ministry, and Love In Action? Are they aware of the role of prominent right-wing Christian organizations in the movement, such as Focus on the Family and the American Family Association? These are major elements of the ex-gay movement. I realize that Nightline only had a short amount of time for the segment, but to ignore these important elements was neglectful.

I'm pleased that ABC at least brought attention to the bogus ex-gay movement, but with regard to important details, I think they dropped the ball.

To read additional commentary on the Nightline segment, visit these links:

Truth Wins Out: Nightline: Journey into Manhood Poster Boy Cruises Men With Wife; Analysis of Puff Segment

Ex-Gay Watch: Journey into Manhood Investigated by ABC's Nightline

Monday, November 8, 2010

Soulforce Symposium in Philadelphia, Part II

(UPDATED 11/10/10)

After lunch, I returned to the Soulforce Symposium and caught the tail end of William S. Meyer's workshop, "On the Diagnosis and Treatment of Homosexuality: When Prejudice Masquerades as Science." Meyer is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and OB/GYN at Duke University Medical Center.

Meyer discussed how homosexuality was seen as a mental disorder until a few decades ago, charting the process by which homosexuality was removed as a pathological condition from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). His handout listed dates and statements from major medical entities, such as the American Psychiatric Association, de-pathologizing homosexuality and condemning reparative therapy as harmful. The workshop was a reminder of how much LGBTQ people suffered in the past due to ignorance, and how far society has come in accepting them.

Next, the symposium hosted an invigorating panel discussion about intersectional justice in the LGBTQ movement. Panel speakers included Kevin Trimell Jones (behavioral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania HIV/AIDS Prevention Research Division and founder of the Black LGBT Archivists Society), Melanie Martinez (from the Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program), Vincent Cervantes (public speaker and ex-gay survivor), J. Mason (education specialist for the Bryson Institute of the Attic Youth Center), Cathy Renna (managing partner of Renna Communications), Rev. Jeffrey H. Jordan-Pickett (pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Philadelphia), and Amanda Lee Genaro (a 2010 Soulforce Equality Rider).

* * * UPDATE: Vincent Cervantes' panel presentation, "Critical Witnessing and Multilingualism: Building the Counter Movement", is now available for download from the Soulforce website.

Panel participants talked about infighting they've seen in the LGBTQ movement, the need for attention to diversity, and the challenges facing various groups within the movement. The discussion was a reminder that the LGBTQ movement is not monolithic, and that LGBTQ identity overlaps with other racial, ethnic, socio-economic, religious, and gender identities that cannot be encompassed by narrow labels.

The panel discussion also brought important questions from the audience. One young man admitted that, as a gay atheist, he often felt stigmatized by LGBTQ people of faith. In response, Cathy Renna said that she had observed the opposite -- a scorning of religious LGBTQ people within the LGBTQ community -- because many LGBTQ people had been hurt by religious homophobia and transphobia. Another man in the audience felt that the panel had been unfair to white, middle class gay men, who have contributed much to the LGBTQ movement. While none of these intra-movement tensions will be resolved overnight, I was pleased that people were at least talking about them.

When attendees dispersed for the second workshop set, I was immediately drawn to a presentation by Christine Robinson entitled, "Genocidal Intentions: Public Policy and the Ex-Gay Movement." Robinson is an Associate Professor of Justice Studies at James Madison University, and she has studied the ex-gay movement in depth for seven years. She and Sue E. Spivey have collaborated on several scholarly articles on the ex-gay movement, including "Genocidal Intentions: Social Death and the Ex-Gay Movement" in Genocide Studies and Prevention, and "The Politics of Masculinity and the Ex-Gay Movement" in Gender & Society.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Soulforce Symposium in Philadelphia, Part I

Panel discussion on intersectional justice at the Soulforce Symposium.
I had the privilege of attending the Soulforce Symposium in Philadelphia on November 6th, which was an absolute delight. I've blogged about the many toxic Religious Right events I've infiltrated, so it's refreshing to blog about a hopeful, invigorating event hosted by such a positive organization. Plus, it allowed me to get acquainted with some fun corners of a vibrant city.

As you recall, the "ex-gay" National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) was holding a conference that weekend in Philadelphia, and thus Soulforce held a conference at the same time to combat lies from the "ex-gay" movement. As Soulforce executive director Dr. Cindi Love explains in this commentary at the Advocate, "ex-gay" groups such as NARTH, JONAH, and Exodus International have promoted dubious reparative therapy, intended to "cure" people of homosexual inclinations. The result has been ruined lives and homophobia, made even worse by the spread of the "ex-gay" message worldwide.

Anti-NARTH Protest in Philadelphia

(UPDATED 11/10/10)

Saturday, November 6th was quite a day for progressives in Philadelphia! A prominent "ex-gay" organization with strong ties to the Religious Right -- the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) -- held a conference at the Renaissance Philadelphia hotel, prompting a coalition of LGBT organizations and bloggers to protest. LiftMyLuggage.Org, organized by the Equality Forum, Equality Pennsylvania, Metropolitan Community Church of Philadelphia, PFLAG Philadelphia, and various progressive bloggers, invited LGBT supporters to protest outside the hotel on November 6th. Demonstrators were encouraged to bring signs criticizing "ex-gay" therapy and pink luggage, a reference to the scandal involving George Rekers and a male escort.

Jeremy Hooper from Good As You gave a short speech at the protest, which you can watch below. (Click here if you're having trouble viewing the video.)

To read Edge Boston's article on the LiftMyLuggage protest and the Soulforce Symposium, visit the link below:

Edge Boston: "Ex-gay" organization protested in Philadelphia

Other bloggers in attendance have posted commentary on NARTH and the Saturday protest, which I encourage you to check out:

Zack Ford Blogs: Bully-Free Zones: Not on NARTH's Agenda

Zack Ford Blogs: The Marriott Plays for Both Teams, One of Which is NARTH

Joe.My.God: The Douchebags of NARTH

Joe.My.God: The Good Guys at the NARTH Protest

Truth Wins Out: Pictures from Truth Wins Out’s ‘Lift My Luggage’ Protest at the NARTH Convention

Good As You: NARTH "Lift My Luggage" Protest

In response to the negative attention, NARTH president Julie Hamilton posted an essay claiming that NARTH is not anti-gay and is not a hate-based organization.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Life Rally in Philadelphia

Logo for Life Rally. The iconic "LIFE" design from Philadelphia's Love Park with the I in rainbow. Text around the border reads End LGBTQ Suicide! Love Park Philadelphia. Soulforce Symposium. Fri 11.5.10 8:30 PM
I'm back from Philadelphia where I attended the beautiful Soulforce Symposium today, and I have much to share. I'll provide details on the symposium and the anti-NARTH protest soon.

Unfortunately, I could not attend the Life Rally in Philadelphia on Friday evening, but I want to praise those who participated. Soulforce sponsored a Life Rally in Philadelphia's Love Park on November 5th to confront intolerance in the wake of several high-profile LGBTQ youth suicides. In essence, the Life Rally was a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ community and a call to end systematic oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Singer/songwriter Ray Boltz was scheduled to perform, and an open word session allowed participants to pour out their hearts on these issues.

One young woman at the rally gave a powerful spoken word performance on love, faith, and religious intolerance. (Click here if you're having trouble viewing the video.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Commentary Tidbits

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Christian Nation: The Other Fundamentalist Perspective, Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV

Right Wing Watch: Right-Wing Lays Out Agenda for GOP Leaders, Calls For "Restoring Traditional Moral Values"

Mother Jones: Ralph Reed's Teavangelicals

Religion Dispatches: Hate, An American Voter Value

Religion Dispatches: Religious Right Attacks Federal Bullying Intervention

Texas Freedom Network: Texas Eagle Forum Promotes Anti-Muslim Discrimination

The Guardian: The women-hating rage of the Republican right

Box Turtle Bulletin: My existence is not a violation of your rights

Right Wing Watch: Everything You Need To Know About The FRC

Talk to Action: Bachmann Gave To MN Addiction Recovery Center Credited With Exorcisms

Daily Mail: The new abortion war: Could Britain follow in the steps of the militant U.S. 'pro-lifers'?

The Nation: The SBA List's 'Pro-Life' Lies

Think Progress: Alabama Supreme Court Justice Compares DADT Judge To Al-Qaeda

Media Matters: CNN's Erickson urges Coloradans to impose religious test in Senate race

Truth Wins Out: Since There Is So Much Overlap Between Anti-Gay Bigots and Anti-Choice Zealots…

Gawker: College Kids Go Demonstrate at Anti-Gay Preacher's Church

Lez Get Real: Liberty Council Attacks Susan G. Komen With Old Lies About Abortion And Breast Cancer

News Tidbits

CNN: Christian conservative voters turn out big on election night

CNN: Atlanta pastor Eddie Long, in response to suits, denies sex allegations

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Family Research Council slams Anh 'Joseph' Cao for support of gay rights

365 Gay: Retired chaplains warn against ‘don’t ask’ repeal

Pink News: Anti-gay Christian couple to challenge fostering ban at High Court

Pink News: Bishops say gay rights laws damage Christian freedoms

Pink News: Iowa voters oust gay marriage ruling judges

Washington Post: Washington man gets probation for Colorado abortion threat

New York Times: A Hidden Minefield at Pregnancy Centers

Oklahoma Daily: Abortion posters spark debates

Beliefnet: Air Force Academy Cites Progress in Tackling Religious Intolerance

New Zealand Herald: 'Appointment with death' cards shocking for elderly

(Hat tip to Gaytheist Agenda for the last article.)

Strange Bedfellows: Ex-Muslims and the Christian Right

Just as Christianity has its defectors, so too does Islam. Ex-Muslims such as Ibn Warraq, Taslima Nasreen, and Salman Rushdie have embraced secularism and delivered hard-hitting criticism of Islam, often at great personal risk. Other ex-Muslims have converted to Christianity, finding Jesus' teachings more palatable than those of their former faith. Some, however, have found right-wing, fundamentalist Christianity to their liking.

The Religous Right, never one to pass up an opportunity, has deployed several prominent ex-Muslims in its ideological fight against Islam, including Ergun Caner and Rifqa Bary. While Ayaan Hirsi Ali (an atheist) is not a voice for the Religious Right, I fear that her comments about Christianity and Islam could all too easily play into the Religious Right's hands someday.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Review of the Truth Project -- The State

Remember the Truth Project seminar I infiltrated a few weeks ago, which promoted a fundamentalist worldview curriculum released by Focus on the Family? As promised, I've started watching the curriculum DVDs, which I will review here over the next few weeks. Since we just had elections and government is on everyone's minds, I decided to review a module entitled "The State: Whose Law?"

As I expected, the State module features black-and-white thinking, slippery slopes, fear mongering, and a laughably simplistic approach to political theory. Even though the series was released in 2006, it demonstrates a distrust of government and a disdain for taxes that pre-dates the Tea Party movement by several years. The purpose of the module is not so much to educate viewers about statecraft as it is to encourage support for theocracy.

The scene began in a welcoming university classroom -- clean, modern, and bathed in golden sunlight. A dozen earnest students listened to the narrator, Dr, Del Tackett, as he pontificated about God and the state. Tackett told the story of a farming couple who died in a car accident, only to have a gang burst into their home afterwards and take half of their property. When he asked the students if that constituted stealing, most answered "yes". He then added qualifications -- what if the gang needed the property? What if they had a sick dog? What if it were the governor doing this? What if the governor passed a law allowing him to take half of their property? Tackett said that such a law exists in America (which I presume was a distorted reference to the Estate Tax), following up with the question of whether or not the state could steal.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chase Whiteside at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

(Hat tip to the Advocate)

New Left Media interviewer Chase Whiteside talked with attendees at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington D.C. (As you may recall, Whiteside conducted interviews with attendees at Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally this summer, which you can watch here.) For the most part, the people he interviewed were grounded men and women who wanted to see moderation in our public discourse. However, some of the people he interviewed clung to odd conspiracy theories or were uninformed about upcoming elections. Videos like this are a reminder to us left-leaning types to laugh at ourselves once in a while -- and to stay well informed!