Saturday, October 25, 2014

Back from Phoenix!

I had to take a short-notice business trip to Phoenix, AZ this week, which is why my blog has been silent. I enjoyed the trip immensely, but it's good to be home. I'll return to regular blogging soon, so stay tuned.

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

Thursday, October 9, 2014

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

News Tidbits

The Australian: ‘It’s your fault,’ Hillsong founder told victim of child sexual abuse

New England Public Radio: Against All Odds, Self-Funded Independents Hope For Massachusetts ‘Miracle’

Raw Story: North Carolina pastors on Jimmy Carter’s 90th birthday: He could ‘go to hell’ for making Jesus a gay-loving ‘hippy’

Religion News Service: Topeka goes from ‘God Hates F**s’ to ‘God Loves Gays’

Los Angeles Times: Gay marriage poses a dilemma for many Republican candidates

International Business Times: Mormons Accept SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Decision While Catholic Church, GOP Groups May Continue To Fight

Yahoo News: Singapore: Focus on the Family relationships workshop to conclude by end-2014

Mexico: Thousands Participate in Saltillo Anti-Gay March

In September, the Mexican state of Coahuila legalized same-sex marriage and adoption, to the chagrin of conservative groups and the Catholic Church, reports BBC News. Mexican anti-LGBTQ activist responded by organizing a march against same-sex marriage. On September 28th, thousands of anti-LGBTQ demonstrators marched through the streets of Coahuila's capital city, Saltillo, in a demonstration organized by Cristo Vive.

According to its website, Cristo Vive is a ministry focused on rehabilitation of people who struggle with alcohol and drug abuse, especially young persons and low-income persons. Cristo Vive seeks to instill "the moral and spiritual values of love and respect for parents, spouse, children, authority, love of country, neighbor, and especially love of God" (los valores morales y espirituales como amor y respeto a los padres, esposa, hijos, autoridades, amor a la patria, al prójimo y sobre todo el amor a Dios). The ministry was founded by Carlos Pacheco, who lead the September 28th march.

Zócalo Santillo reports that Carlos Pacheco, with bodyguards in tow, lead thousands of marchers through the streets of Saltillo. The slogan of the march was "Viva Mexico, Viva La Familia". Marchers held signs celebrating heterosexual marriage and distributed leaflets claiming that gays and lesbians can change "through a personal encounter with God". Alongside floats, some marchers dressed as brides and grooms, reports Vanguardia. According to El Universal, marchers chanted, "Rescuing the family today; values are not lost; no one will change what God created; unite with one voice; struggle for a better Mexico ... Love is truly found in a mom and dad" (Rescatemos la familia desde hoy, que no se pierdan los valores, que nadie cambie lo que dios creo, unete a nosotros a una voz, luchemos por un Mexico mejor ... Amor de verdad se encuentra en papa y mama). The chant lyrics have been posted at the Cristo Vive website.

Head-counts for the march vary. Vanguardia reports anywhere from 6,000 to 12,000 participants, while El Universal estimates that 30,000 people took part in the march.

The language surrounding the march should sound familiar to observers of the American Religious Right. According to Vanguardia, Pastor Carlos Pacheco argued that he and his supporters were protecting the correct model of family, and by extension, society.
"Creemos en modelo establecido socialmente aprobado y correcto que compone la sociedad, la familia normal y sana son matrimonios sanos civilmente aprobados en las escrituras, es un hombre y mujer que procrean hijos, si nosotros atacamos directamente a la familia estamos atacando a la sociedad."

"We believe in a socially approved and correct model [of marriage] as a component of society. Normal and healthy families are [based on] healthy marriages civilly approved in Scripture. It is a man and woman who procreate children. If we directly attack the family, we are attacking society."
Some observers were deeply troubled by the march. According to Zócalo Santillo, La Comunidad San Aelredo condemned the march and the homophobic attitudes of Cristo Vive. Noah Ruiz Malacara, a representative of San Aelredo, insisted that "acts of this kind should be punished for inciting homophobia" ("Actos de este tipo deberían ser castigados por incitar a la homofobia"). El Siglo reports that San Aelredo has since filed a complaint with the Department for Equality and Prevention of Discrimination, which states that Pastor Carlos Pacheco used discriminatory language.

One commentator at Zócalo Santillo, nicknamed "Catedral", was pained by the intolerant attitudes of the marchers.
"... la verdad es que me duele ver que algunos movimientos religiosos y otros grupos no se caracterizan precisamente por promover el amor, la fraternidad y la comprensión. Por el contrario, exhiben el feo pecado de la intolerancia, sin aceptar opiniones y conductas diferentes a las suyas."

"...the truth is that it hurts me to see that some religious movements and other groups are not characterized by love, brotherhood and understanding. Rather, they exhibit the ugly sin of intolerance, unwilling to accept opinions and behaviors that are different from theirs."
As LGBTQ equality advances around the world, the global Religious Right continues to promote homophobia. The Saltillo march was the latest example of outrage from anti-LGBTQ figures, reminding us that the Religious Right is an international force.

Neil Carter on the Rapture and the Consequences of Dispensationalism

Neil Carter at Godless in Dixie penned a commentary piece on the Left Behind series and the origins of pre-tribulation rapture theology. Carter argues that rapture theology contributes to a sense of paranoia and pessimism that feeds conspiracy theories, promotes a warped view of Middle Eastern politics, and prevents believers from working toward positive social change.
Because adherents to this worldview are so accustomed to expecting sudden dramatic lurches in history rather than slow, gradual change, they find it very easy to believe conspiracy theories which suggest the big bad government will soon take away the freedoms Americans hold dear.  My Pentecostal grandmother passed along a cassette tape of a preacher in the 1980′s predicting we would all get microchips implanted in our foreheads or on the backs of our hands and that this would be the mark of the beast.  That idea stuck for many, so today when someone passes around that often debunked story about Obama dictating that we would all be receiving that very thing, people in churches all over the country instantly believe it.  I also remember a teacher in my home church years ago suggesting that the “www” from internet URL’s could be transliterated into the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, rendering the internet itself the mark of the beast.  The paranoid possibilities are endless, and the fear this teaching creates is as palpable as it is bankable.

The Dispensational worldview promotes a pessimistic view of the future while also viewing the church itself as irreparably broken.  There’s a strange individualistic focus which avoids putting any expectations on the church itself to do anything good while still in the world.  What use would it be, if you know God is only going to come destroy the whole thing in a few years, right?  Along with that pessimism, Dispensational theology also splits up portions of the Bible into verses for the Jews and verses for the Gentiles such that Jesus’s ethical teachings don’t apply to the church.  What you get as a result is a disdain for moral teaching which would help shape the character of the church in such a way that they could ever contribute much of value to the world around them.  They see themselves as just biding their time, waiting for God to hit the reset button.  I mean, why polish brass on a sinking ship?  The church then shares no responsibility for making the world a better place.  And when you talk to them about making a difference in the world, people raised on this teaching will just shake their heads and tell you that you’re talking nonsense.  They are disturbingly disconnected from the rest of the world, and it’s largely because of this system of thought.

I must mention one more consequence of Darby’s ideology for the churches which still teach this stuff:  They are adamant Zionists who believe that since God is supposed to resume a program for saving the nation of Israel, we must as a nation continue to favor Israel in every conflict they encounter, regardless of what sources of information tell us about what’s going on.  In reality, the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts are mind-numbingly complex, with both good and bad things being done by people on both sides.  But Christian Zionism predisposes American Christians to view Israel through rose colored glasses, as if they can do no wrong because God is always on their side.  At least in part because of the support of those churches raised to believe this theology, our nation has played a major role in arming and protecting the nation of Israel in hopes that they will always win and their enemies will always lose, no matter whose territory is being fought over at the time.  Zionists will not be happy until every patch of dirt claimed by Israel is recaptured from the Palestinians, and this sentiment helps feed our country’s lust for control of Middle Eastern politics.

The people who believe this stuff swear that it represents the only right way to read the Bible.  They are “rightly dividing the word of truth,” and all other Christians have it wrong.  I find it nearly impossible to tell them that their way of interpreting the Bible didn’t even exist before about 1830 because they brush such things aside as lies of the Devil.  They will continue to lap up this stuff and feed their paranoia because fear sells well, and their leaders can’t help themselves.  Hollywood knows this, too, so I figure these movies will keep popping up as long as ticket sales continue rolling in.  The rest of the world just scratches their heads and wonders how on earth anybody can believe this stuff.  It’s just bizarre.
Read the whole thing. It's a revealing look at rapture ideology and the attitudes of figures on the Religious Right.

News Tidbits

New York Times: Mormon Women See Priesthood Meeting

The Advocate: Religious Right: Supreme Court Letting Marriage 'Burn to Ashes'

Associated Press: Methodist clergy escape sanctions over gay wedding

Jerusalem Post: Israeli Health Ministry warns against conversion therapy for homosexuals

Pink News: France: Tens of thousands protest in Paris against IVF and surrogacy for gays

Huffington Post: Faces Of Faith Explores Religious Perceptions Of LGBT People In Uganda

Commentary Tidbits

io9: Bill Nye: The end of creationism is nigh

New York Times: The Church’s Gay Obsession

Political Research Associates: Conversion Therapy: A Bigger Threat to Africa Than Scott Lively

Huffington Post: Science Denial and Religious LGBT Phobia

Monday, October 6, 2014

Religious Right Fumes Over Supreme Court Decision Regarding Same-Sex Marriage

The LGBTQ equality movement just achieved another victory! According to Reuters, the Supreme Court rejected appeals involving same-sex marriage bans that had been struck down by lower courts in five states: Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia. Thus, same-sex marriage stands in those states, but the Supreme Court has not issued a national ruling on same-sex marriage.

Six other states may experience legislative upheavals as well. The New York Times reports that today's Supreme Court move allowed decisions from federal appeals courts to stand with regard to six states that ban same-sex marriage: Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia. If those appeals courts strike down same-sex marriage bans in those states, the number of states permitting same-sex marriage could climb to thirty.

LGBTQ equality advocates were delighted by the news. Predictably, the Religious Right was not.

First, in a press statement at the Family Research Council website, FRC president Tony Perkins claimed that the decision would allow "rogue lower court judges" to allegedly undermine democracy and marriage.
"Unfortunately, by failing to take up these marriage cases, the High Court will allow rogue lower court judges who have ignored history and true legal precedent to silence the elected representatives of the people and the voice of the people themselves by overturning state provisions on marriage.   Even more alarming, lower court judges are undermining our form of government and the rights and freedoms of citizens to govern themselves.  This judicially led effort to force same sex 'marriage' on people will have negative consequences for our Republic, not only as it relates to natural marriage but also undermining the rule of and respect for law.

"The Court decision ensures that the debate over natural marriage will continue and the good news is that time is not on the side of those who want to redefine marriage.  As more states are forced to redefine marriage, contrary to nature and directly in conflict with the will of millions, more Americans will see and experience attacks on their religious freedom.   Parents will find a wedge being driven between them and their children as school curriculum is changed to contradict the morals parents are teaching their children.  As more and more people lose their livelihoods because they refuse to not just tolerate but celebrate same-sex marriage, Americans will see the true goal, which is for activists to use the Court to impose a redefinition of natural marriage on the entire nation."
Next, Concerned Women for America president Penny Nance expressed relief that the Supreme Court did not issue a national ruling on same-sex marriage. " Americans are having a robust debate on this important issue, and for the Supreme Court to interrupt that debate and decide the issue for the country would be disastrous," Nance said in a press release.

Nance frowned on lower courts that supposedly "overstepped their bounds" by overturning state same-sex marriage bans, labeling their decisions "judicial activism".
"The problem we have in this case is that some lower courts have overstepped their bounds and ruled several state marriage amendments unconstitutional. That judicial activism, overturning the will of millions of Americans who went to the polls to say they wanted marriage to remain as the union between one man and one woman, will stand.  But also other decisions and marriage amendments supporting natural marriage will also stand. That means the battle to protect God’s model for marriage will continue, and the Supreme Court will have to take the case at some point. We must continue to stand boldly for freedom of conscience and for natural marriage."
The National Organization for Marriage expressed its disappointment with today's decision. NOM president Brian Brown fumed that marriage was being "redefined from the bench".
"We are surprised and extremely disappointed that the US Supreme Court has refused to grant review of the same-sex marriage cases pending before them. This is wrong on so many levels. First, the entire idea that marriage can be redefined from the bench is illegitimate. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman; it has been this throughout the history of civilization and will remain this no matter what unelected judges say. Second, it's mind-boggling that lower court judges would be allowed to impose the redefinition of marriage in these states, and our highest court would have nothing to say about it. Third, the effect of the lower court rulings is to say that a constitutional right to same-sex ‘marriage' has existed in every state in the union since 1868 when the 14th Amendment was ratified, but somehow nobody noticed until quite recently. That's the absurd belief we are being told to accept."
Whether the Religious Right likes it or not, marriage is evolving. Today's Supreme Court decision reflects that evolution, and the LGBTQ community is better for it.

News Tidbits

Al Jazeera America: Evangelical college's contraception lawsuit proves divisive

The Advocate: Right-Wingers Claim Gay Republicans Are 'Wrong,' 'Terrible Role Models'

Boston Business Journal: Accreditation board gives Gordon College a year to review policy on homosexuality 

Associated Press: 5 things to know about the Vatican's family synod

Pew Research Center: Vatican synod on family highlights discord between church teachings and U.S. Catholics’ views 

The Advocate: NOM's Grasping at Straws in Oregon

Gay Star News: Arrest made over 'gays are worthy of death' UK leaflet hate campaign

Catholic Herald: Polish bishops urge legislators not to ratify European pact on violence against women

Commentary Tidbits

The Village Voice: Five Awful/Hilarious Books by Left Behind Creator Tim LaHaye 

Women in Theology: Sex And Social Justice At the Synod on the Family

Slate: The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans

Religion Dispatches: Israel’s Chief Rabbis Say No to Christian Zionist Event

SPLC Hatewatch: Former Ex-Gay Activist Renounces the Movement, Talks with Hatewatch

Right Wing Watch: At Moscow Conference, Don Feder Warned That Sexual Revolution Will Lead To Human Extinction

Sunday, October 5, 2014

More Religious Right Figures Weigh in on Domestic Violence Scandals

Recent abuse cases involving NFL athletes such as Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson have brought family violence into the public spotlight. As discussed in a prior post, the response from some Religious Right figures has been mixed. To her credit, Concerned Women for America president Penny Nance condemned the NFL's response to domestic violence and child abuse in a September 23rd column at the Christian Post. Unfortunately, other Religious Right figures have responded in less admirable ways.

First, Charisma Magazine published a September 19th column by Janet Boynes, whose "ex-gay" ministry has drawn heavy criticism from LGBTQ advocates. Boynes' describes her heart wrenching childhood with an abusive stepfather, lamenting that her traumatized mother and brothers also gave into violence. She urges domestic violence victims to seek help and encourages bystanders to offer aid to those suffering abuse. Boynes' column would have been a compassionate, enlightened call to end domestic violence, if not for one passage.
"Then there's me, kicked out of school often, I became an abuser to all the boys who would mess with me in school, did drugs, then lived a life of homosexuality for 14 years."
I was stunned. Boynes suggests that being a lesbian was some kind of traumatic response to childhood abuse, a pathology in the same category as drug abuse. She fails to realize that her nightmarish childhood and sexual orientation were not related, and that being LGBTQ is compatible with living a healthy life.

Next, in a September 9th blog post, Matt Walsh condemned Ray Rice's "shameful deed", using it as a springboard to talk about gender dynamics. Walsh claimed that men's violence against women is condemned more severely than men's violence against other men, a state of affairs with complementarian roots, he argued. He sneered at "egalitarian leftwing feminist principles", ignoring the fact that feminists have been combating domestic violence for decades.
"We might as well just confront this question. It’s a scary thing to do, I realize. We don’t want to look any closer at this because know that the answer will devastate nearly all of our egalitarian leftwing feminist principles.

Why? Well, finally, I’ll propose an answer to the riddle: when we heap extra scorn on the abusers of women, we acknowledge that men and women are separate, distinct, and unique creatures. And we know that to acknowledge our separateness and distinctiveness is to contemplate the possibility that men and women have different roles in society, different duties, different responsibilities, and different purposes.

And, though few will say it anymore, we know that among a man’s duties is that ever-important charge to protect and honor women. Men are meant to use their strength to defend women against harm. When a man betrays this responsibility, we act as though he’s turned the world upside down, because he has. The man is not just a generic ‘aggressor'; he is a traitor. He has deserted his post. He was given his strength for a reason. It is supposed to be a shield for the women and children in his life, but he has used it as a weapon against them."
First, Walsh is wrong when he assumes that male-on-male violence isn't criticized as harshly as male-on-female violence. Many people do condemn violence against men by men. Advocacy organizations reach out to male victims of sexual assault and same-sex domestic violence. Men have been among the victims of mass shootings and terror attacks that have horrified the public. The death of Michael Brown ignited fury across the country. The recent beating of two gay men in Philadelphia triggered so much outrage that lawmakers and LGBTQ advocates redoubled their efforts to expand Pennsylvania's hate crime laws. The 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard saddens and inspires activists to this day. Plenty of people understand that brutality is wrong, no matter what the sex of the victim.

Second, his argument amounts to people get outraged over domestic violence, therefore rigid gender roles are innate! I don't follow this "logic", which makes no sense. Walsh fails to understand that people find domestic violence offensive because it is brutal and grossly immoral, not because of supposedly inborn gender roles.

Additionally, Walsh's contempt for feminism ignores the fact that feminists have been the vanguard of the anti-domestic violence movement. It is feminists, not complementarians, who have spoken out against domestic violence for decades and offered concrete aid to abuse victims. Feminists recognize the links between patriarchy and domestic violence, but unfortunately, Walsh fails to understand that we cannot fight patriarchy with more patriarchy.

Finally, Jesse Lee Peterson, best known for his 2012 misogynist diatribe, spewed more sexism in an online column. In a September 21st commentary piece at World Net Daily, Peterson claims that "[t]he movement to weaken men and destroy the order of the family is accelerating." He accuses the National Organization of Women of being man-haters and expresses dismay that female domestic violence advocates have been "given power over an all-male sport". Peterson's column devolves into a rant about abortion, same-sex marriage, and how feminists and left-wingers are "destroying the natural order of the family, which ultimately would result in utter societal chaos." (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)

The three commentary pieces described above made me sigh. Boynes, Walsh, and Peterson used domestic violence as an excuse to promote agendas, instead of focusing on the root causes of domestic violence. Once again, the Religious Right's attitudes toward domestic violence disappoint me.

News Tidbits

Reuters: Vatican meeting a test case for Pope Francis' papacy

New York Times: A Papal Decision Leaves Some Feeling Less Than Charitable

Los Angeles Times: New U.S. history curriculum sparks education battle of 2014

St. Cloud Times: Minnesota Catholic Conference opposes MSHSL transgender policy

Seattle Pi: Donations to Mars Hill mega church down sharply in August

WEAR ABC 3: Escambia County Commissioner walks out of invocation at beginning of meeting

Pink News: Archbishop of Canterbury cancels Lambeth Conference over gay clergy row

The Guardian: Brazil’s evangelicals become a political force to be reckoned with

Commentary Tidbits

Sahara Reporters: Ebola Epidemic: Where Are The Faith Healers In Africa?

The Irish Atheist: Why Left Behind Didn't Convert Me

The Root: How a Black Gay Mormon Kid Lost His Faith 

Talking Points Memo: Inside the International House of Prayer

Salon: Stephen Colbert mocks Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal in epic Values Voter Summit takedown

RH Reality Check: MRAs for Jesus: A Look Inside the Christian ‘Manosphere’

The Independent: An unholy alliance of US and Russian Christians are fighting against Estonian gay rights

GOD TV Co-Founder Rory Alec Steps Down

Some of you may be familiar with GOD TV, a prominent Christian television network. According to Pink News, Rory and Wendy Alec founded the network as Christian Channel Europe in 1995. The husband and wife team would oversee the network's expansion into a global Christian television network.

For several years, GOD TV has been as invaluable resource for my blog. The GOD TV website has been a source of video coverage for Religious Right events in the U.S. and around the globe, especially New Apostolic Reformation gatherings. It was through GOD TV that I first learned about international preachers such as Angus Buchan and Reinhard Bonnke, and it was GOD TV broadcasts and archives that let me watch New Apostolic Reformation events such as the 2012 America for Jesus Rally, TheCall Detroit, Esther Call, the Prayer and Prophetic Conference, and the FIGHT! Conference.

GOD TV not only transmits Religious Right content, but generates some of their own as well. I fondly remember when GOD TV co-founded Wendy Alec posted the "Obama Prophesy and Prayer" after the 2012 presidential election, which lamented the "disobedience" of God's people and the "prayerlessness" of the government. Their latest project, Battle for 1 Billion Souls, encourages viewers to proselytize to five people "who need to be saved".

Recently, GOD TV has experienced a major upheaval. According to a statement at the GOD TV website, Rory Alec announced that he is stepping down as chairman and CEO, effective immediately. Wendy Alec, GOD TV co-founder and director of television, will lead the network alongside senior management. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)

Rory Alec claimed that he resigned over a "moral failure" in his marriage, telling staff, “After 20 years of service, I have had a moral failure this year. For this reason, I am stepping down. Please forgive me for the disappointment I’ve caused, but I know your eyes are on Jesus who is the author and finisher of your faith and not on me, an imperfect man."

Few details are available about the nature of this "moral failure" or the future of the Alec marriage. How will this scandal impact the New Apostolic Reformation world? What changes will take place at GOD TV, now that Rory Alec has left? What are Wendy Alec's thoughts on the scandal? Raw Story reports that Wendy Alec will offer details during an upcoming edition of Revival Alert, which may shed light on the situation.

For background on GOD TV, click here.