Friday, November 30, 2012

Micah Moore's Lawyer Says that Confession Was "Untrue"

As you recall, 23 year-old Micah Moore was recently charged in the murder of 27 year-old Bethany Deaton, a former intern for the International House of Prayer (IHOP). Prior news articles state that Moore confessed to the killing and told authorities that her husband, Tyler Deaton, instructed him to kill Bethany. Tyler Deaton reportedly lead a religious group in which same-sex sexual encounters and sexual assault occurred, according to witnesses cited in a probable cause statement. Micah Moore, Tyler Deaton, and Bethany Deaton all worshipped at the International House of Prayer, but the exact nature of Tyler Deaton's involvement with IHOP has been a source of controversy.

A new twist in the Bethany Deaton murder case has come to light. According to the Kansas City Star, Moore's defense attorney, Melanie Morgan, recanted Moore's murder confession. Calling Moore's confession "bizarre" and "untrue", Morgan blamed Moore's statements on his distraught emotional state.

"These were the statements of a distraught and confused young man under extreme psychological pressures as a result of his friend Bethany's untimely suicide and the sudden removal of his spiritual leader, Tyler Deaton, from their extremely close-knit religious community."

However, the Kansas City Star reports that Morgan's statement did not address claims that Bethany Deaton had been sexually assaulted by men in her husband's religious group. Tyler Deaton remains under investigation, according to a Jackson County prosecutor. KCTV 5 reports that police recently served a warrant to search an iPad belonging to Tyler Deaton.

Making a Difference: MergerWatch

Across the U.S., financial difficulties are leading hospitals to merge with other hospitals or health systems. When secular hospitals merge with religious health systems that forbid abortion, sterilization, in-vitro fertilization, and contraception, patients often lose access to much-needed reproductive health services.

For instance, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that physicians and community members decried Abington Memorial Hospital's plan to stop performing abortions upon merging with Holy Redeemer Health System, a Catholic institution. Women's eNews reports that Waterbury Hospital would adhere to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Services upon its planned merger with Saint Mary's Hospital -- meaning an end to tubal ligations, contraception, and emergency abortions there.

Fortunately, one organization is working to protect reproductive rights in the face of such mergers. MergerWatch advocates for reproductive health care access when it is threatened by hospital mergers with religious institutions. Founded in 1996 at the Education Fund of Family Planning Advocates of New York State, MergerWatch was created when an outpatient clinic in Troy, NY could not longer provide contraceptive services after a merger between secular and religious hospitals.

MergerWatch provides analysis of proposed hospital mergers, assistance with interventions in state hospital regulatory oversight, public education, and support for grassroots organizing. Its advocacy has prevented mergers that would have jeopardized patients' reproductive health services, or helped modify mergers so that reproductive health services could continue to be offered. It has also developed creative solutions to proposed mergers, such as "hospital-beside-a-hospital" plans.

MergerWatch has released a range of publications on religious institutions and reproductive rights. Not only do their publications address problematic hospital mergers, but also pharmacist refusals to dispense emergency contraception and the importance of emergency contraception access for rape victims.

For more information on MergerWatch, visit their website.

Commentary Tidbits

Right Wing Watch: Religious Right Groups Work to Defeat Treaty on Rights of People with Disabilities, Falsely Claim it Sanctions Abortion

Joe.My.God: Scott Lively: God Totally Exploded A Strip Club Because I Prayed For It To Happen

Sara's Random Rants: Lively Hate for Gays and Strippers

GLAAD: LGBT Organizations Condemn Dr. Oz Show for Episode on So-Called Reparative Therapy

Truth Wins Out: Dr. Oz Disappoints

Truth Wins Out: Is Evangelist Rick Warren Re-Legitimizing Antigay Genocide?

Huffington Post: 'Will & Grace' Ex-Gay Ministry Episode Angered Focus On The Family Pundit

Religion Dispatches: Campaign Calls On Anti-Gay Leaders to “Repent”

Salon: Will the religious right take on GOP racism?

God Discussion: The New Apostolic solemn assembly of the millennium is coming ... God Day 12-12-12

PolicyMic: Top 9 Most Influential Conservatives Never Elected to Public Office

News Tidbits

CNN: Gay men sue counselors who promised to make them straight

Live Science: 5 Things You Should Know About Gay Conversion Therapy

Sacramento Bee: American Jewish World Service Condemns Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill and Stands in Solidarity with LGBT Ugandans

San Francisco Chronicle: Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit: Minn. improperly pays for abortions

Metro News: Transgendered Canadians respond to conservative group’s pedophilia ‘slur’

MSN News: Man says prayer group leader told him to kill wife

The Advocate: Uganda, Considering a Devastating Antigay Bill, Has Tony Perkins's Support

Portland Press Herald: Ethics panel fines primary foe of Maine gay-marriage referendum

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Congresswoman Speier and SPLC Challenge Conversion Therapy

Enormous controversy surrounds so-called conversion therapy, a dubious therapeutic treatment that purports to turn gay people straight. Fortunately, conversion therapy has come under increased condemnation by professional organizations and LGBTQ advocates in recent years. Two recent developments have dealt another blow to this destructive form of counseling.

First, on November 27th, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced that it had filed a lawsuit against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), JONAH founder Arthur Goldberg, and counselor Alan Downing. The complaint charges that JONAH, Goldberg, and Downing violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act by purporting that they could change clients' sexual orientation from gay to straight. The SPLC's complaint accuses JONAH et al. of citing the highly problematic work of Joseph Nicolosi and Richard A. Cohen, two major proponents of conversion therapy. Nicolosi is infamous for co-founding the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).

According to the complaint, the four men among the plaintiffs were subjected to grossly inappropriate "therapy" practices, such as being told to remove all clothing, intimately hold other men (including counselors), and beat an effigy of their mother with a tennis racket. These strange practices are contraindicated by modern therapeutic practice, the complaint argues.

The toxic messages of such conversion therapy, the complaint observes, are that "being gay is loathsome and that gay people are more likely to be pedophiles, drug abusers, and alcoholics. In order to promote their services, [JONAH et al.] also falsely claimed that gay people are all generally lonely, suicidal, and have or will contract HIV/AIDS." The complaint points out parallels between these homophobic messages and the discredited ideas of psychiatrist Paul Cameron, whom it calls "the architect of modern anti-gay pseudoscience."

Second, on November 28th, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-California) introduced the Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) resolution at a press conference. Co-sponsored by Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Florida) and Congressman David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), the resolution seeks to protect minors from abusive conversion therapy practices.  According to Congresswoman Speier's website, Speier is also investigating whether federal money has been used to fund conversion therapy.

Congresswoman Speier delivered the resolution alongside representatives from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The resolution emphasized that LGBTQ status is not an illness, decrying efforts by mental health practitioners to change gender identity or sexual orientation as "dangerous and harmful". The statement declared that conversion therapy should not be practiced on minors, citing research and statements by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and other professional organizations on the inefficacy and damaging effects of conversion therapy.
"(a) IN GENERAL.—It is the sense of Congress that sexual orientation and gender identity or expression change efforts directed at minors are discredited and ineffective, have no legitimate therapeutic purpose, and are dangerous and harmful.
(b) STATE ENCOURAGEMENT.—Congress encourages each State to take steps to protect minors from efforts that promote or promise to change sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, based on the premise that homosexuality is a mental illness or developmental disorder that can or should be cured."
These developments should be applauded. In the wake of California Governor Jerry Brown signing SB 1172 -- a bill banning conversion therapy for minors -- it is exciting to see more condemnation of this homophobic "therapy." I would like to see more public condemnation of the so-called "ex-gay" movement in general, against both its religious and therapeutic branches.

The ex-gay movement must be held accountable for its sins. Branding all non-heterosexual orientations as automatically pathological -- whether in a religious setting such as Exodus International or a supposedly "therapeutic" setting -- is false and unethical. Stereotyping LGBTQ life as a cesspool of debauchery and despair -- whether by so-called ex-gay speakers or so-called therapists -- is vile. LGBTQ persons need acceptance and respect, not homophobic quackery.

For additional commentary, visit the following links.

The Trevor Project: Rep. Jackie Speier Introduces Resolution to Protect Youth from Dangerous and Discredited Conversion Efforts

Human Rights Campaign: HRC Praises Introduction of Resolution Condemning Use of Dangerous Psychological Practices

Truth Wins Out: Statement on the ‘Stop Harming Our Kids’ (SHOK) Resolution

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation: Eye on the Media: Facts About So-Called "Ex-Gay" Therapy

Daily Kos: Southern Poverty Law Center files landmark consumer fraud suit against "gay cure therapists"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Commentary Tidbits

Warren Throckmorton: Scott Lively and Bryan Fischer Laud Uganda as Christian Nation; Support Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Box Turtle Bulletin: What Does Oil Have To Do With Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill?

Human Rights Campaign: Family Research Council, American Family Association Leaders Praise “Kill the Gays” Bill

It's Pronounced Metrosexual: 30+ Examples of Christian Privilege

Stonekettle Station: Unreasonable People (Hat tip to Cthulhu)

News Tidbits

Washington Blade: Uganda headed toward passing draconian anti-gay legislation

Washington Blade: U.S. envoy meets Ugandan leaders over anti-gay bill

The Guardian: Jesus wept … oh, it's bad plumbing. Indian rationalist targets 'miracles'

San Francisco Chronicle: Hobby Lobby appeals morning-after pill decision

Religion News Service: Oklahoma judge defends sentencing teenager to church even if it’s not legal

KKTV 11: Focus on the Family President Working to Change Ministry's Image

Christian Science Monitor: In world's most religious country, Ghana's humanists rally for secular space

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Religious Right Around the Globe: Ugandan President Museveni Delivers National Jubilee Prayer

Back on October, Uganda celebrated its National Jubilee with special events and talks by prominent public figures. Sponsored by several Christian groups in Uganda, the National Jubilee celebrated fifty years of Ugandan independence from the United Kingdom. An October 18th article in New Vision reports that Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni delivered a public prayer at the National Jubilee in Namboole. During the prayer, Museveni repented on behalf of his predecessors, begging God for forgiveness for sin that have "greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation."
"We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal.

Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict."
Museveni prayed to God for collective deliverance from "ignorance, poverty and disease," beseeching God for national "prosperity and transformation." In language reminiscent of western anti-witchcraft preachers such as Reinhard Bonnke, Museveni cast away "satanic influence" and "witchcraft" covenants over Uganda.
"I renounce all the evil foundations and covenants that were laid in idolatry and witchcraft. I renounce all the satanic influence on this nation. And I hereby covenant Uganda to you, to walk in your ways and experience all your blessings forever."
Museveni's public prayer on behalf of Uganda was praised by Ugandan religious leaders, including Church of Uganda Archbishop elect Stanley Ntagali, Pentecostal leader Alex Mitala, and anti-gay activist Martin Ssempa of Makerere Community Church. However, praise for the prayer was not limited to regional Christian voices. World Net Daily quotes American Religious Right activist Scott Lively as praising Museveni's prayer, calling it "a model for all Christian leaders in the world." Lively insists that western leaders "have declined in proportion to their degree of rejection of God," praising Uganda for embracing the creator.
“Britain was at its height as a world power when it honored God as the Ugandan president has just done. America’s greatness has similarly diminished as we have shifted from a Christian to a secular-humanist country. But watch now for Uganda to be blessed by God for their desire to be His."
On the issue of Uganda's proposed anti-gay bill, Lively pointed to Museveni's prayer as evidence of Uganda's enlightened mindset. “This incident is also important as a contrast to the picture being painted of Uganda by the godless left of a backwards, violent and savage culture intent on murdering homosexuals,” he said.

I find it highly ironic that President Museveni repents for the national sins of injustice and oppression in the face of ongoing international controversy over Uganda's proposed anti-homosexuality bill. The draconian bill would legislate imprisonment for LGBTQ persons in a country where the LGBTQ community already struggles against virulent homophobia. I cannot help but wonder if Museveni's rhetoric about "sexual immorality" and "debauchery" were subtle references to homosexuality.

I also find it disturbing that Museveni speaks so matter-of-factly about witchcraft, a dangerous superstition that needs to be eradicated, not fed. Belief in witchcraft has produced untold suffering in many parts of Africa, with those accused of witchcraft facing violence and persecution, as UNICEF, Stepping Stones, and documentary filmmakers have documented.

Sadly, Uganda's political, economic, and social transformation will not come from prayers, but from the hard work of Ugandans who are building a better future for their country. It will come from respect for human rights, which cannot be realized unless Uganda jettisons the draconian anti-gay bill, addresses homophobia, and eradicates "witchcraft" violence. It will come from hope, knowledge, justice, and the rejection of old hatreds.

For additional commentary, visit the following links.

Bartholomew's Notes on Religion: Museveni Prays About “The Sins of Uganda”, Wins Praise from US Christian Right

Daily Kos: President Museveni's outrageous hypocrisy

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bieber, Druids, and Nephilim: Deliver Us from Evil Conference, Part I

The Deliver Us from Evil Conference took place on October 21-23 at the Upper Room Church in Keller, Texas. The conference website warns believers about "an assault against Christianity and the church in America. Through music, our schools, government, and even in the church, the Devil has been unleashing corruption and deception to try and steal the church's power in America, and in the world."

Steve Foss, senior pastor of Upper Room Church, delivered a talk at the conference that condemned the entertainment industry, the United Nations, LGBTQ rights, and abortion. His sermon, sprinkled with the occasional glossolalia, warned believers about demons, pop music, and the onslaught of the "gay agenda." I found part one of his talk so surreal and fear-laden than I was compelled to share excerpts.

Foss began his talk by claiming that archaeological evidence existed of nephilim, the human-angel hybrids described in Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33. The nephilim, he claimed, were 30 feet tall beings who were worshiped as gods by the ancients because of their knowledge of heaven, science, and technology. The nephilim were vanquished in Great Flood, but now exist as demons looking for bodies to possess, he insisted. At the 1:14 mark, Foss accused prominent members of the entertainment industry of submitting to demons.
"The demons are always looking for bodies to get into, and what they want is to be worshiped ... Even in the words that so many in the music industry and the entertainment industry have willfully chosen to submit themselves to these nephilim spirits ... You know Madonna? She has druid priests in the recording studio, summoning spirits so she can sing her song. Now I got a question for you. If they're summoning those spirits in order to perform, what do you think's coming out through the music?"
At the 2:11 mark, he mentioned Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson in the same breath as demons seeking worship.
"We've been channeling the spirits of the enemy ... because they want fame. They walk ultimately to be worshiped. It just isn't natural. It ain't natural for a whole generation to be going aaaaahhh over a kid named Bieber. Hello!? He don't sing that good! He ain't all that good-looking! ... You got little girls passing out. It's a worshiping spirit. Are you all hearing me? What they did with Michael Jackson. It is what the enemy ultimately wants. He wants to steal the worship of God. He wants to be worshiped."
Foss also complained about preachers with big egos who crave the worship of their followers. Whenever someone wants to be worshiped, Foss argued, a demon is behind it.

Foss described the plagues that afflicted Egypt in the book of Exodus as God's symbolic attacks against Egypt's false gods. For example, he framed the Nile River turning to blood as God's jab at the Egyptian river god, and days of darkness as God's jab at the sun god. Disturbingly, he gleefully praised God's slaughter of the firstborns of Egypt, seemingly unfazed by the killing of innocent people in the legend. (Ironically, he condemned Pharaoh and King Herod for slaughtering innocents later in his talk.) At the 15:08 mark, he had this to say.
"The firstborn of Pharaoh was considered--not only were they considered divinity, but they were considered to be of divine birth. So the firstborn son was a god, so God killed their god! [Foss hops around; audience claps] Come on, y'all hear me. God killed their god ... See, God's not just going to sit back. God is going to execute judgment against all false gods."
Foss claimed that God told him that this is what will happen to the world right now. God, he warned, will judge every false deity on earth.

At the 21:53 mark of his talk, Foss went on an anti-United Nations rant, insisting that the U.S. hates Israel, hates Christians, and seeks to undermine U.S. sovereignty.
"Don't you think for one second the U.N. has any bit of good in it. There is nothing good in the United Nations. It is ruled and controlled by demonic forces that are trying to bring about a one world government system ... Why do you think they hate Israel? And they hate Christians. Don't you think one thing about it. You know, they just tried to pass a treaty and get America to sign a treaty that would literally make homeschooling illegal. And you could have foreign troops come in, foreign police forces and officials come in, and U.N. officials come in, and actually arrest American citizens on American soil. Right now there are five major treaties that are being passed right now that President Obama has said he will sign or try to get through the Congress in the lame duck session, no matter what happens in the election. One of them is going to put a tax on the Internet. They're going to put a tax on American travel. Why? Because they want to redistribute the wealth. To take the money from America and put it overseas. One of them is going to majorly restrict guns in America. We're going to submit it to the U.N."
Foss devoted several minutes to demonizing the Lucis Trust, a non-profit organization affiliated with the esoteric Arcane School. He accused the group of promoting a sinister agenda to undermine Christianity, including making divorce easy, increasing access to abortion, and normalizing homosexuality. Also, Foss fumed that one of their alleged goals was to reduce parental authority. He pointed to increasing social disapproval of corporal punishment as supposed evidence of this waning authority. At the 24:01 mark, he enthusiastically defended spanking children.
"In a lot of places, you can't even spank anymore. Man, I believe the Bible. Beat 'em, so they shall not die. You know, people say spare the rod, spoil the child. That's not what the Bible says. The Bible says spare the rod, you hate your child."
Predictably, Foss condemned abortion, arguing that it goes against nature for a woman to kill her "baby". Using familiar anti-abortion rhetoric, he called Margaret Sanger a racist and referred to abortion among people of color as "racial genocide". He also condemned homosexuality, defending British bed and breakfast owners who discriminated against a same-sex couple in 2010. At the 31:27 mark, he claimed that the "gay agenda" resulted in President Obama releasing an evil spirit, which apparently had something to do with nephilim again.
"The gay agenda is so strong in America right now. It is coming at us right now, and I'm telling you in the name of Jesus, you have seen an unleashing. All of a sudden, it has turned that now, if you're opposed to gay marriage, before, it was like, well, they thought it wasn't fair and it wasn't just. Now, all of a sudden, you're hate-filled. Now, all of a sudden, you're a bigot. Now, all of a sudden, they want to pass laws against this. Ever since the President of the United States opened his mouth and released the authority of that spirit and said 'I support gay marriage', all of a sudden, this thing has shifted suddenly. [Speaks in tongues] Aw, and there he goes again, off on President Obama. Nephilim."
How do you reason with people who believe things like this? How do you reason with someone who preaches that demons have infested the music industry and the United Nations? How do you reason with someone who embraces wild conspiracy theories about U.N. threats to American sovereignty? How do you reason with someone who hops around gleefully at the thought of God's slaughter of the firstborns of Egypt? How does one even reach this level of superstition and fundamentalism?

To listen to part I of Foss' talk or any of the other talks at the Deliver Us from Evil Conference, click here.

(Hat tip to Right Wing Watch)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cindy Jacobs: Pastor's Death Was God's Warning Over Same-Sex Affairs

Cindy Jacobs Mensaje de Santidad CAP 2008 from Kaloyán Stefanov on Vimeo.

This video from the 2008 Conferencia Apostólica y Profética (CAP) shows Cindy Jacobs of Generals International speaking at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. At the 21:44 mark, Jacobs claims that an unnamed pastor's death was God's warning to African-American clergy against having same-sex affairs.
"Two Januaries ago, I gave a word of warning to the African-American church in America. And I said this: God is going to judge those pastors on the down-low who are having homosexual affairs and think they're going to preach from the pulpit. And I said, to show you what I'm saying is true, God is going to give you a time to repent, but if you don't repent as the sign that God is serious, there will be a pastor drop dead in the pulpit. And it happened! Forty-two years of age, dropped dead! You might say, are you trying to scare me!? No, I'm try to put the fear of the Lord in you, because I love you! I am sanctifying you!"

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Comic Relief: I'm Waiting for This

Obama's re-election. Slow but sure advances in LGBTQ equality. An increasingly diverse America. Amidst all these developments, I'm waiting for some frustrated Religious Right figure to have a freak-out like Morn did in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

NOM Seeks to Spread Homophobia Overseas

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is not happy. With increasing support for same-sex marriage, the re-election of a president who has voiced support for LGBTQ rights, and the success of pro-LGBTQ initiatives in four states this month, the organization is reassessing its strategy. Unfortunately, that strategy will involve outreach to foreign countries, according to an article on a recent NOM conference call.

During a conference call on November 8th, NOM discussed the 2012 elections and the future of its anti-LGBTQ activism. According to the American Independent, NOM leaders stressed the importance of expanding their fundraising efforts and gaining grassroots support, especially in the face of challenges from LGBTQ equality groups such as Human Rights Campaign.
“Just looking at the battlefield, we are not the Human Rights Campaign. They’ve got 40 million dollars. They’ve got multiple grassroots directors. We are sort of a baby organization that’s had to grow very quickly, and we are going to be focusing a lot more on the grassroots.”
NOM president Brian Brown lamented that Karl Rove allegedly pushed the GOP to focus heavily on economic issues. He blamed the failure of anti-LGBTQ initiatives partially on the celebrity power harnessed by LGBTQ equality supporters.
“I think that the Republican Party in general was sold a false bill of goods this election, and the notion that we should only talk about economic issues gained the day. This was really sort of Karl Rove’s strategy. There was hundreds of millions of dollars raised for outside groups, and they wanted everyone to stay on message on jobs. But the big problem with that is twofold. Number one, the other side has all of these celebrities, governors, people like Michael Bloomberg, just a tremendous amount of elite support where they can get out and get their message out and have cheerleaders. We didn't have that. Secondly, clearly it was a mistake because it didn't work, and as Frank said, we significantly out-polled the Republican party in these states. So, it was not a wise decision simply on the level of winning and losing. It would have been a tremendous boon to us if we would have had more talk about marriage, more focus on this issue. A number of Democrats and others were swayed, especially in Minnesota, by the notion, well, that this is just about about keeping it out of our Constitution. This is not about legalizing same-sex marriage. Well, of course it is."
One conference call participant mentioned pro-LGBTQ efforts by Starbucks and General Mills, asking what measures the group could take “to stop the wave of corporate sponsorship of gay marriage.” In response, NOM president Brian Brown suggested anti-LGBTQ efforts in foreign regions where Starbucks seeks to expand, such as India and the Middle East.
“Their international outreach is where we can have the most effect, so for example, in Qatar, in the Middle East, we’ve begun working to make sure that there’s some price to be paid for this. These are not countries that look kindly on same-sex marriage, and this is where Starbucks wants to expand, as well as India. So we have done some of this. We’ve got to do a lot more.”
NOM may well be setting its sights overseas because of failures at home. NOM, alongside the Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus, donated significant amounts of money to failed anti-LGBTQ efforts in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine, and Washington, reports the Human Rights Campaign's NOM Exposed project. In the face of these failures, they may long to find greener homophobic pastures abroad. Furthermore, funding for the organization is precarious. An article in the Boston Globe states that NOM has experienced a drop in donations, from $9.1 million in 2010 to $6.2 million in 2011. Two donors provided more than $4.7 million of the total $6.2 million in 2011 funds. This small donor pool is not unusual for the organization, however. According to NOM Exposed, NOM's donor pool is small, with five donors accounting for 90% of its funding in 2010. Alliances with anti-LGBTQ groups overseas might provide much-needed funding.

However, the world is much smaller than it used to be, and increasingly less homophobic. LGBTQ rights advocates also network across the globe, and will undoubtedly speak out against any NOM-backed efforts abroad. Furthermore, the emerging LGBTQ communities in places like India are making their voices heard, and slowly, more people are reexamining their homophobia. While homophobia is very real in southern Asia and the Middle East, NOM should not expect automatic victories there without a fight. Now that the world know about their strategy, we'll be ready when they try to put it into action.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Americablog: Religious right to target Starbucks in Middle East over gay marriage

Queerty: NOM To Out Starbucks As Gay-Friendly In Homophobic Middle East

Pam's House Blend: NOM’s dangerous export of hate: ‘punishing’ pro-equality U.S. companies in countries hostile to gays

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Commentary Tidbits: IHOP and Deaton Edition

As more details emerge about the murder of Bethany Deaton, a former intern at the International House of Prayer (IHOP), Religious Right watchdogs are weighing in. Observers express horror at her murder and alarm at the reported practices of her husband's religious group. While IHOP has tried to distance itself from Tyler Deaton's religious group, the ministry is coming under increased scrutiny for its relationship with Tyler Deaton and his group.

When Republic of Gilead first commented on the matter, I was quick to take IHOP at their word. I earnestly believed that IHOP had no connection with Tyler Deaton's group and would foster healing in the community. As more information has emerged, I now realize I was hasty in this assumption. I have since deleted those lines, and I grow increasingly concerned about Tyler Deaton's relationship with the ministry.

Below is a collection of recent columns on IHOP and the Bethany Deaton case. Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out penned a commentary on IHOP at the Falls Church News-Press, and it's is especially worth the read.

"Beware Grandview and Kansas City. You have an aggressive, militant, angry, fundie cult growing under your nose. It’s time to wake up before you become the next Colorado Springs. Don’t be caught flat footed wondering, “How did this happen?” ... It would be unfair to portray this episode as representative of what occurs at the IHOP. However, it cannot be denied that this church has become a magnet for extremists with a militant End Times view of the world. From my experience, it is an ideal incubator for young narcissists with Messiah-complexes, like Deaton, who fancy themselves prophets."

Box Turtle Bulletin: The tale of Tyler and Bethany Deaton

Truth Wins Out: TWO Accuses IHOP Of Covering-Up Ties To Murder Cult Leader

Jezebel: ‘Ex-Gay’ Christian Sex Cult Leader Accused of Arranging Wife’s Murder

Falls Church News-Press: The International House of Horror

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CFAN Boasts of Faith Healing and Exorcism in Ethiopia

(Hat tip to FreeThinker at Sodere for this video)

Christ for All Nations (CFAN), founded by German missionary Reinhard Bonnke, is a non-denominational Christian ministry with considerable global outreach. CFAN is best known for its large scale revivals around the world, with many taking place in Africa. For example, Republic of Gilead posted commentary on one such gathering in Oshogbo, Nigeria, where Bonnke preached about lifting "witchcraft" curses and dispelling demons. CFAN held a similar religious rally in Ethiopia this month, where claims of faith healing and exorcising demons from the possessed were unfortunate highlights of worship. 

On November 5-11th, CFAN hosted an International Crusade rally in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where Reinhard Bonnke and Daniel Kolenda preached to a large audience. In a video segment from the rally, Kolenda speaks through an Amharic translator as he tells the crowd of purported faith healings. At one point, a mother and daughter appear on stage, with Kolenda telling the audience that the girl's sickly legs were healed by faith. The girl sat on a chair, and after someone confirmed that her legs looked healthy, Kolenda rejoiced. "Walk in the name of Jesus!" he cheered. "Halleluja! I tell you, this is the work of Jesus, and every day her legs will get stronger and she will become faster, and soon she'll be playing football." Other African women told the audience that they had been miraculously cured of goiter and lameness, with Kolenda concluding, "Jesus is the best physician in the world."

Kolenda's blog posts at the CFAN website contain equally vivid accounts of faith healing and exorcism. In a November 9th commentary on the Addis Ababa gathering, Kolenda wrote about performing faith healings, burning witchcraft fetishes, and dismissing demons from attendees.  
"After I preached the Gospel we burned two barrels of witchcraft juju.  I prayed for those suffering under demonic cruses and Jesus broke the chains.  Demoniacs were shrieking and the crowd was dancing and rejoicing… it was a wonderful, holy chaos!

Then Evangelist Bonnke began to pray for the sick and all over the huge field miracles began to break out.  For instance, a woman’s goiter disappeared from her throat.  Another woman’s 12-year infection dried up.  A lump disappeared from another woman’s breast after troubling her for 3 years… and many more."
Claims of faith healing, exorcism, and victory over "witchcraft" are par for the course in CFAN's African gatherings. A Charisma Magazine commentary on CFAN's February 2012 gathering in Monrovia, Liberia speaks of faith healing, exorcism, and the conversion of a so-called witch to Christianity. A 2007 video of a CFAN rally in Abakaliki, Nigeria shows worshippers burning "witchcraft" items in a large barrel, followed by chants of "Up up Jesus, down down Satan!". In a 2011 commentary at the CFAN website, Kolenda writes about dispelling demons and lifting curses from African villages. 
"In many of the African villages where we minister, the people have lived in fear of certain curses and demonic principalities that have kept them in bondage and terror for generations. Often these strongholds have names familiar to every local inhabitant, but the people dare not say them aloud for fear of the demon powers behind them. When we come for one of our Gospel campaigns, we challenge these forces with the power of the cross. We ask that a list of the local curses be provided and then through the massive sound system we begin to pray, calling out the curses and breaking them by name, one by one, in the name of Jesus! After each curse is broken, a mighty AMEN rises from the crowd and a palpable sense of freedom and joy causes the people to dance and sing.

In one city, the witch doctors practiced their divination by standing on certain “sacred” stones that they claimed would speak to them. After our campaign, the witch doctors began to complain, “The stones no longer speak.” Through prayer we have the power to overcome the enemy and to break every chain."
CFAN's appeals to superstition in its African campaigns are neither healthy nor ethical. Given the violence and misery caused by superstitious belief in witches in parts of Africa, I find CFAN's witchcraft rhetoric grossly irresponsible. However, I also find CFAN's faith healing claims at the Addis Ababa rally disturbing. Did some audience members leave the rally with false hope that faith would cure sickness? What will happen when faith fails to heal injuries and diseases for them? What if some attendees fail to seek medical attention for health problems, seeking refuge in the empty promises of faith healing? Can CFAN celebrate faith without appealing to superstition and dangerous pseudo-healing?

To learn more about CFAN, click here

To watch videos of CFAN events, visit the GOD TV archives here

News Tidbits

Catholic Culture: Minnesota priest discusses ‘denial of Confirmation’ to pro-gay marriage teen

The Advocate: Marco Rubio: Social Conservatives Are Being 'Silenced'

Boston Globe: Knights of Columbus' anti-gay marriage funding sparks petition

Pink News: UK Labour MP backs petition against gay ‘cure’ treatments

Pink News: Anti-gay campaign group NOM sees financial donations plunge

Yahoo News: Creationism Controversies The Norm Among Potential Republican 2016 Contenders

Gaystar News: Nuns claim birth control turns men gay and women into sluts

Monday, November 19, 2012

GOD TV Co-Founder Posts Prophesy About President

Even though the 2012 presidential election concluded weeks ago, some Christian voices are still reading cosmic content into politics. On November 12th, GOD TV co-founder Wendy Alec posted the "Obama Prophesy and Prayer" on the GOD TV website. Written from God's perspective in faux-Biblical language Alec's prophesy promises wisdom and unity for America's religious leaders with a dash of pro-Israel rhetoric.

Alec's prophesy begins by lamenting the "disobedience" of God's people and "prayerlessness" in government. Still, it promises that President Obama's eyes will be opened to "things in the nature and things in the spirit."
For my hand has been restrained, says the Lord – My Hand has been restrained because of the disobedience of my people –

For there have been many prayers that have risen up to my throne but there has been prayerlessness for this government

For I tell you, beloved son, beloved daughter that as you arise in prayer for this government – as you arise in prayer for this President – for this husband; for this father of children, for this President of the nation of America –

That my hand shall once again be loosed to move upon the White House – upon the government – upon the President – in power – in glory and in might

And as you lift up your voice in the day and as you lift up your voice in the night hour before my throne and pray for wisdom for this man –

I tell you that even in an instant – I shall release wisdom –

Even in an instant I shall release revelation –

Even in an instant – his eyes shall be opened to things in the natural and things in the spirit realm that he has been previously blinded to –

And I shall pour out My Spirit upon the White House –

And I shall pour out My Spirit upon Congress
Alec's prophesy continues, with God promising "a working together across the aisles" that will transcend philosophical differences over issues. Congress will be infused with "a spirit of reconciliation", and rifts will be healed between Republicans and Democrats, Congress and Israel, and President Obama and Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu.

The prophesy vows that "the spirit of Jezebel" will be driven from Congress. Apostolic preachers such as Lou Engle has spoken of Jezebel as a demon of corruption and depravity, and I can't help but wonder if "the spirit of Jezebel" is a veiled reference to social issues here. Later in the text, the prophesy claims that God will "break the bonds of intimidation" that have shackled the president, lifting the influence of Jezebel that allegedly paralyzed him.

The prophesy also states that certain men and women will be removed from positions of power through a Cyrus figure. In the Bible, Cyrus was a beloved Persian king who ended the Jews' captivity and decreed that the Temple in Jerusalem be rebuilt.
And the spirit of Jezebel shall be rooted out of the White House –

It shall be rooted out of the Congress

For I shall tear down and root out –

And even certain men and certain women shall be removed from their positions

They shall be removed –

And there shall even be removals from a high place – a place of great authority

And in their place I shall position those chosen and appointed by my own hand

There will be Cyrus’ whose hands I shall use
The prophesy vows that President Obama will become a "champion for the poor and the weak and the helpless" through God. God will also supposedly grant the president wisdom in his dealings with Israel, Iran, and Afghanistan while putting "a hook in his nose to Israel." Whether this means that God will supposedly strengthen U.S.-Israeli ties or give the president a nose ring is up for speculation.

In short, Wendy Alec posted a prophesy allegedly from God, promising wisdom for the president and unity for Congress. And I'm left thinking, oooooooookaaaay then ...

To read Wendy Alec's "Obama Prophesy and Prayer", click here

Charisma Magazine Confronts the Threat of Demon Nookie

I'm used to hearing over-the-top demon rhetoric from certain New Apostolic Reformation preachers, but this takes the cake. In a November 19th article posted at Charisma Magazine, Cedric Harmon discusses incubi and succubi, demons that supposedly sexually assault humans and "lure people into homosexual behavior." The article hilariously blames demons for nightmares, erotic dreams, and homosexuality.

The Charisma article introduces readers to Contessa Adams, author of a 1999 book on alleged sexual demon possession, Consequences. Adams, described as a former stripper turned ministry leader, claims that she contemplated becoming a lesbian after a succubus attacked her. Obedience to God, she argues, is the best defense against sexual demons. "The Holy Spirit has to reprogram you. If you're not programmed for obedience, it's hard to do so," she told Charisma. "Once you come out of that world, you're learning what you can do and what you cannot do. With the Holy Spirit, if [you] go to touch that fire, He will quicken you and tell you, 'No.'"

The article also quotes from U.S. Prayer Track president Eddie Smith, who works with people experiencing "demonic sexual attacks." Smith claims that such demonic attacks are common in "pagan religions" such as Voodoo and Santeria which allegedly invoke demons.

How does one respond to this kind of insanity? Part of me wants to laugh at the superstition and sheer silliness in the article. On the other hand, I can't laugh because there are people in the world who actually believe this medieval nonsense. For example, New Apostolic Reformation preacher Lou Engle speak of demons constantly, blaming demonic influences for "sexual immorality" and "demonization of culture". This literal demonization of homosexuality only serves to ostracize the LGBTQ community and induce shame in believers who are attracted to the same sex. The idea that homosexuality is a natural variation of human sexuality is never considered.

I think such attitudes are rooted in deeply pathological attitudes toward sex, where normal sexual feelings are branded as evil and non-heterosexual orientations are demonized. Such attitudes are fueled by fear: fear of sexuality, fear of the body, fear of LGBTQ persons, fear of non-Christian religions, and fear of the human condition. Healthy sexuality is part of our humanity, and we should acknowledge our sexuality in respectful, responsible ways instead of worrying about demon nookie.

(Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)

Commentary Tidbits

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Anti-gay pastor's charges of racism ignites a verbal feud with religious right

NBC News: No, it's not "Christians'" fault Obama won

BBC News: Has the Mormon mystique been lifted?

Freak Out Nation: Republicans who want to ‘help’ their party with a Sarah Palin run in 2016 (forgets the GOP Clown car is packed full)

Gaystar News: Feeling the aftershock of Malawi's brief taste of gay freedom

News Tidbits

Concord Monitor: ADF Lawyer Facing Federal Pornography Charges Arrested by FBI

Minnesota Public Radio: Evangelical Leader Jim Daly Suggests It's Time To Collaborate

Bloomberg Business Week: Bible Publisher Won’t Have to Fund Birth Control Coverage

WGAL News 8: Youth pastor pleads not guilty in mock kidnapping

Washington Post: Romney won over white evangelicals, Catholics, but they weren’t enough to win race

Associated Press: Anti-gay marriage marchers take to French streets

Sunday, November 18, 2012

IHOP Distances Itself from Tyler Deaton as More Details Emerge

In a prior post, Republic of Gilead discussed the murder of 27 year-old Bethany Deaton, a former intern at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, Missouri. Her roommate, Micah Moore, confessed to her murder, claiming that her husband, Tyler Deaton, ordered the killing. News reports indicate that Tyler Deaton headed a Christian religious group that met in the Deatons' home. Moore told authorities that killed Bethany Deaton because he feared she would tell her therapist about sexual assaults she endured at the hands of men in Tyler Deaton's religious group. Other witnesses also claim that Tyler Deaton had sexual relations with or tried to groom men in his group. Bethany Deaton, Tyler Deaton, and Micah Moore all worshipped at IHOP. Tyler Deaton is currently under investigation, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and his connections with IHOP have come under heavy scrutiny.

Shortly after Moore's arrest, IHOP insisted that it did not have ties to Tyler Deaton's religious group. However, Truthspeaker's Weblog and Feeling the Fiction both observed that Tyler Deaton was acknowledged as a division coordinator for a home fellowship group in a recent IHOP hand-out, but was later removed. The Kansas City Star corroborated these claims. Now, WDAF Fox 4 and the Kansas City Star report that IHOP is distancing itself further from Tyler Deaton and his group. According to news sources, IHOP insists that the listing of Tyler Deaton as an IHOP friendship group division coordinator was an error made by a volunteer, and that Deaton was never a coordinator.

A November 16th statement posted by IHOP's Forerunner Christian Fellowship further denies that Tyler Deaton held any leadership position. According to the statement, after Deaton graduated from IHOPU in May, he attended an Forerunner Christian Fellowship discussion on improving small groups. At one such gathering, he reportedly facilitated a breakout discussion. The statement claims that a volunteer mistakenly listed Tyler Deaton as a division coordinator while compiling a small groups information packet, but did no without consulting the small groups director.

IHOP's November 16th statement was highly critical of Tyler Deaton due to the disturbing details surrounding his religious group. "Knowing what we know now, we deeply regret our failure to discern the nature of Deaton’s alleged secretive, perverse, cultic practices. We further regret his admission to IHOPU four years ago and all connection he had with our organization," IHOP said in the statement. The organization adds that "We now believe his interest in our small groups was to try to promote his own agenda within our organization."

Bloggers such as Truthspeaker are unmoved by IHOP's attempts to distance itself from Tyler Deaton. "Is leadership oversight so lax that they don’t even know the people that are in these positions at IHOP, or is IHOP just trying to cover their tracks and do damage control?" Truthspeaker writes.

Susan at Feeling the Fiction slams IHOP as well. "There are inside sources at IHOP-KC and they will continue to leak truth to the media and to those who stand against this cult group. [Mike] Bickle and others in leadership will undoubtedly continue to scramble, change their stories and lie; but eventually those lies will run dry," she wrote in a November 16th post.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The media is now probing Tyler Deaton's life before Bethany Deaton's murder, and the portrait emerging is of a charismatic but domineering young man who poured himself into Christianity. According to the Kansas City Star, Tyler Deaton graduated as part of the Corpus Christi Calallen High School class of 2005. His year book portrait included a quote from Ryan Dobson's 2003 Christian book, Be Intolerant: Because Some Things Are Just Stupid.*

Tyler would go on to study at Southwestern University, a Methodist-affiliated school in Georgetown, Texas. Fellow student Christy Little described him as domineering. “Everything had to go his way,” she said. “One time he said there would be no discussion until everyone agreed that the King James version was the only true version of the Bible. Well, I was Catholic so I had a problem with that. So we argued and of course Tyler won everybody over because that’s what he did.”

While at Southwestern University, Deaton started a non-official religious group on campus, featuring prayer and singing. The group staunchly believed that homosexuality was wrong and un-Biblical, but some members claim that Deaton himself "struggled with being gay." University administrators eventually decided that the group could not use the chapel anymore, after an angry Deaton called people to the chapel following a homecoming skit he disliked. Deaton and other members had great admiration for the International House of Prayer, and he would later move to Kansas City where IHOP headquarters are located.

While this new information is illuminating, so many questions remain. What gave rise to Deaton's enthusiasm (or obsession) with a particular brand of Christianity? When did warning signs begin to emerge that Tyler Deaton's group was dangerous? What drew men to his group? Did anyone outside know about the abuse that Bethany Deaton experienced, and did they try to help her? Finally, just what was the true relationship between Tyler Deaton, his religious group, and IHOP? In time, I hope that law enforcement and journalists can unearth the answers to these questions.

* As an aside, I've read Be Intolerant, and it's an angry, poorly-written rant that reads more like a disgruntled teenager's journal than a coherent guide to Christian spirituality. Draw what you will from Tyler Deaton's taste in books.

Commentary Tidbits

Jerusalem Post: Refuting messianic sects

RH Reality Check: They Are Coming for Your Birth Control: Condoms are "Murder" and Contraception is "Rape"

The Bilerico Project: Catholic Bishops Suddenly Silent as LGBT Ugandans Face Possible Death

Dented Blue Mercedes: LGBT human rights in Uganda, and John Baird’s dilemma

Good As You: FRC Has Four 'Get America Back' Fundraising Planks; Three Are Anti-LGBT

Media Matters: Fox News Downplays Major Election Night LGBT Victories

News Tidbits

Provo Daily Herald: Convention center hosts conference on LDS same-sex attraction

The Advocate: Navy Chaplain Says Voting for Marriage Equality Tantamount to Crucifying Jesus

Bikyamasr: Muslims again angered over anti-Islam ads in Denver

Daily Monitor: Uganda: Parliament Speaker Kadaga wants anti-gay bill tabled

Reuters: Blasphemy charges filed over gay Jesus play in Greece

Le Monde: Gay, French, Faithfully Catholic: Living a Paradox as Marriage Debate Heats Up

Gaystar News: UK: Christian bus driver puts brakes on pro-gay marriage poster

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dutch Sheets Pens Commentary on President Obama's Victory

New Apostolic Reformation preacher Dutch Sheets recently posted a commentary on the aftermath of the 2012 presidential election at his website. In the commentary, Sheets lists different religious explanations for why President Obama won the election, pointing out the merits or flaws of each explanation. The subtext, it seems, is that President Obama's re-election is a negative event that believers are struggling to understand.

On the question of whether President Obama and his policies are part of some divine judgment meant to "wake us up", Sheets insists that President Obama's policies will "increase judgments." He offers this vitriolic jab at Democrats, abortion, LGBTQ persons, and Muslims.
"I certainly believe America is and will continue to reap judgment. And I believe the fruit from the reelection of Barack Obama will be our most severe judgment to date. Let us not forget that the political party Americans just voted back into power boldly favors abortion, homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and that they voted God and the support of Israel out of their platform. And, I might add, boo-ed when God was put back in the platform after the potential fallout was realized. God is not mocked, however, and will have the last word.

Our economy will suffer greatly. The financial devastation and quality-of-care deterioration associated with socialized medicine will be staggering; more liberal, pro-abortion. Constitution disregarding, anti-God Supreme Court justices will be appointed (meaning more babies will die, marriage will be dishonored and immorality will be defended); Islam will be emboldened; our military will be weakened; and devastations from natural disasters will continue and perhaps increase. This is the short list."
Sheets is also confident that God has endured enough alleged "mocking" from President Obama, who will be declared "deficient" as per Daniel 5.
"I don't know what form the judgment of the Lord will take, but I am quite confident that God has put up with all of the mocking He intends to from Barack Obama, and that Daniel 5 is now his passage. I say this without malice or ill will, but nonetheless, confidently."
For context, in Daniel 5, God had numbered King Belshazzar's reign because the king worshipped pagan gods and failed to humble himself. Through a sign interpreted by Daniel, God warned Belshazzar that his kingdom would be divided among the Medes and Persians. Belshazzar was later assassinated, and Darius the Mede took control of his kingdom. Obviously, Sheets' use of this chapter as a warning to the president has extremely ominous overtones.

In conclusion, Sheets' commentary suggests that President Obama's re-election was not only an unfortunate event, but a portent that heralds judgment from God. After painting a horrifying (to right-wing Christians, at least) picture of a second Obama term, Sheets cites a Biblical passage of violence and judgment. This reveals much about his political views that I find unsettling.

To read Dutch Sheet's entire commentary, "Response to the Presidential Elections of 2012",  click here

(Hat tip to Right Wing Watch)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Commentary Tidbits

Kansas City Star: A dark side to International House of Prayer’s allure

Huffington Post: Five Reasons Why the Christian Right Is Warning of a 'Revolution'

Sojourners: Rock the 'Slut Vote'

The Nation: Justice for Savita

A Million Gods: Kids These Days

Right Wing Watch: William Murray: Social Security Launched the 'War on the Traditional Family' and Increased the rate of Homosexuality

In These Times: Weak Teavangelicals

News Tidbits

Kansas City Star: Tyler Deaton's Role at the International House of Prayer Becomes Clearer

MinnPost: Petition seeks ouster of anti-gay activist from Anoka-Hennepin task force on bullying

MassLive: Controversial pastor Scott Lively considers running for governor of Massachusetts

The Advocate: Catholic Church Directed $2 Million to Fight Marriage Initiatives

Washington Post: Atheists sue IRS for failure to monitor church politicking

Grand Forks Herald: Minnesota teen denied Catholic confirmation after Facebook post supporting gay marriage

Pink News: Gay 'cure' therapy is harmful, says UK government

BBC News: Jamaica Bans Bible Preaching on Commuter Buses

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Tragic Murder Case Puts IHOP in the Spotlight (UPDATED)

(Trigger warning)

In Kansas City, Missouri, the tragic death of 27 year-old Bethany Deaton has brought an underground religious community to light. The tragedy has also brought media attention to the International House of Prayer (IHOP), a New Apostolic Reformation ministry based in Kansas City.

According to the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office, on October 30th Bethany Deaton was found deceased inside a vehicle at Longview Lake, reports the Kansas City Star. The statement of probable cause states that on a nearby notepad was written "My name is Bethany Deaton. I chose this evil thing. I did it because I wouldn't be a real person and what is the point of living if it is too late for that? I wish I had chosen differently a long time ago. I knew it all and refused to listen. Maybe Jesus will still save me." While the scene initially looked like a suicide, a confession by one of Bethany Deaton's housemates would indicate otherwise.

An official statement posted online by KSHB 41 News states that Micah Moore, her 23 year-old roommate, has been charged with first degree murder in her death. The statement of probable cause indicates that on November 9th, Micah Moore told a Jackson County Sheriff's Detective that he killed Bethany. Moore said that he had shared a residence with Bethany and her husband, Tyler Deaton, along with several other males. According to the statement, Moore claimed that he and the other males had sexually assaulted Bethany over several months, and that they were afraid she would tell her therapist about the sexual violence. Moore said that Tyler Deaton had ordered Bethany's murder, according to KMBC-TV 9,

Authorities also interviewed Shelly Hundley, a pastor at the International House of Prayer who had spoken with Moore at the Grandview Police Department. Hundley reportedly told a Jackson County Sheriff's Detective that Moore admitted the sexual assaults to her.

Interviews with roommates of Moore and the Deatons paint a sordid picture of their "religious community." According to the statement of probable cause, one roommate claimed that Tyler Deaton was the leader of the community, and that he had been "groomed" to join their group. Other roommates claimed that sexual activity took place between Deaton and members of the group. One witness quoted Deaton as saying that the sex was part of a "religious experience."

Other people claimed that the Deaton's religious gatherings were large in scope. KMBC-TV 9 spoke with a neighbor of the Deaton's, who said that the group had weekly meetings and 50-60 cars would line the street. If this is correct, Tyler Deaton's meetings drew a sizable audience.

Bethany Deaton's murder and the subsequent accusations about her husband's religious group have brought the International House of Prayer into the spotlight. Bethany moved to Kansas City in 2009 to intern at IHOP, while Moore was a student at IHOP University, according to Fox 4 News. KCTV 5 reports that Tyler Deaton's group worshipped together at IHOP. A blog belonging to someone identifying as Tyler Deaton also mentions IHOP.

However, this does NOT necessarily mean that IHOP knew about or countenanced the alleged abusive practices in Deaton's group. News reports indicate that IHOP staff have cooperated with authorities. Additionally, IHOP is mourning Bethany Deaton's murder while distancing itself from the religious community. According to a statement from IHOP University president Allen Hood, Bethany Deaton and Micah Moore joined an "independent, close-knit, religious group" that "operated under a veil of secrecy." Hood stressed that the group existed independently of IHOPU, adding that it was important to IHOP that the group's illicit practices be exposed.

I hope that as more information emerges on Deaton's religious community, we can form a clearer picture of what went on. What was the role of Christian fundamentalism in that community? To what degree did manipulation and grooming take place, as described by witnesses? How long did the abuse of Bethany Deaton going on? Did others outside the community know, and could they have helped her? Finally, if Tyler Deaton ordered her murder, as Micah Moore claims, will he face justice? As a community reels from a senseless murder, both healing and answers will be important in the days ahead.

11/14/12 UPDATE: Truthspeaker's Weblog and Feeling the Fiction dispute the claim that IHOP had no affiliation with Tyler Deaton's religious group. The two blogs state that Tyler Deaton was acknowledged as a division coordinator for a Home Fellowship group in a recent IHOP hand-out, but has since been removed. Truthspeaker reminds readers that "In order to be a home-group leader, you just sign up. If people want to go to your home group, they will. There has been no vetting up to this point although I now know that is changing." The Kansas City Star has corroborated these claims.

11/15/12 UPDATE: According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, prosecutors stated that Tyler Deaton is under investigation in Bethany Deaton's murder.

News Tidbits

American Independent: National Organization for Marriage wants Starbucks to pay ‘price’ in Middle East

New York Times: In Virginia’s Hills, a Football Crusade

al-Arabiya News: Muslims should celebrate a traditional Christmas: UK minister

Chicago Tribune: Vatican vows to fight gay marriage after gains in U.S., Europe

The Advocate: Gary Bauer Insists GOP Can Win If More Antigay

Commentary Tidbits

In These Times: Born Losers

Americablog: Vatican frets gay marriage will lead to polygamy, frets less over own pedophilia

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Preacher Ordered Away From Bus Stop

This Week in Christian Nationalism: Hey General Petraeus, How’s That ‘Spiritual Fitness’ Stuff Working For You?

Think and Wonder, Wonder and Think: How Hell Tormented My Childhood

Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill on Fast Track?

A draconian anti-gay bill that would broaden the criminalization of same-sex sexual activity in Uganda might be on the fast track to approval. The Associated Press reports that Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill is due to become law by the end of 2012, according to Ugandan Parliament speaker Rebecca Kadaga. At a November 9th meeting that included anti-gay activists, Kadaga promised to consider the bill within two weeks, claiming that Ugandans had been demanding the legislation. Some religious leaders at the gathering reportedly asked Kadaga to pass the anti-gay legislation as a "Christmas gift."

Uganda's anti-gay legislation needs to be understood in the context of American Religious Right activism in Africa. The New York Times reports that in 2009, Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge, and Don Schmierer of "ex-gay" group Exodus International participated in a conference on the "gay agenda" in Kampala, Uganda. The article reports that the three men presented talks on the alleged evils of the gay movement, the alleged sexual predations of gay men, and how to supposedly make homosexuals straight. (Lively posted a short report about the seminar at www[dot]defendthefamily[dot]com/pfrc/archives.php?id=2345952) A month after the Kampala conference, Ugandan MP David Bahati introduced a draconian anti-gay bill in Uganda parliament, which drew fierce global criticism. According to Alan Colmes, Lively called Bahati's legislation "a step in the right direction". He also admitted that he helped start Uganda's so-called "pro-family" movement in an interview with Vanguard correspondent Mariana von Zeller. Sadly, Lively is but one of several U.S. Christian figures (i.e., Lou Engle) who have promoted anti-gay sentiments in Uganda, a situation discussed in a 2010 report by the Advocate.

The legislation controversy takes place amidst a climate of homophobia in Uganda, where the LGBTQ community has endured persecution from political leaders and law enforcement. Below is a sample of homophobic rhetoric and official actions that have made headlines.

  • Several weeks ago, the Daily Monitor reported that Ugandan parliament passed a resolution recognizing Kadaga stance on homosexuality, after she chided Canada's foreign minister for allegedly "attacking Uganda and promoting homosexuality."

  • MP David Bahati, who first introduced the anti-homosexuality bill, warned attendees at a Kampala Kindergarten Association concert that 40 companies were allegedly recruiting children into gay business, according to the Daily Monitor

  • In May, Ugandan MP Cecilia Atim Ogawl, the head of Uganda's delegation to the Pan African Parliament, discouraged African legislators from classifying homosexuality as a human right. According to the Observer, Ogawl demonized homosexuality as "witchcraft", a western import, and an element alien to African culture.

  • In February, Ugandan Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo, accompanied by police, disrupted an LGBTQ rights workshop in Entebbe, according to Amnesty International.

  • In 2011, Ugandan LGBTQ rights activist David Kato was beaten to death several months after an Ugandan tabloid listed him among "Uganda's Top Homos", according to the New York Times.

Uganda's anti-gay legislation has been reintroduced and tabled since its creation, but that does not mean that we should disregard Kadaga's words now. If the proposed anti-gay bill is signed into law, it would mean increased persecution of LGBTQ persons and their allies in Uganda in a cultural climate in which they already face homophobia. LGBTQ rights supporters must continue to condemn this legislation and remind the Ugandan parliament (and Religious Right) that LGBTQ human rights deserve protection.

For an exhaustive overview of Uganda's anti-gay bill, see Box Turtle Bulletin's Slouching Toward Kampala page. For additional commentary, visit the following links.

Box Turtle Bulletin: Major Uganda Broadcaster Turns Cheerleader for Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Warren Throckmorton: Uganda’s Parliament May Pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill Soon

International Business Times: Uganda Uses Anti-Gay Bill to 'Blackmail the West', Leading Activist Tells IBTimes

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sin, Pride Apparently to Blame for Hurricane Sandy

In a prior post, Republic of Gilead highlighted several Religious Right reactions to Hurricane Sandy. As they do with most natural disasters, Religious Right voices blamed everything from gays to impiety to improper foreign policy as the culprit for the storm. More voices have weighed in, blaming sin, pride, and LGBTQ rights initiatives for Hurricane Sandy's onslaught.

First, during the October 31st Reformation Day gathering in Dallas, Texas, Dennis Lindsay of Christ for the Nations prayed for Sandy's victims. While his sorrow appeared sincere and heartfelt, his ideas about the storm's origins made me ill at ease. At the 42:42 mark of the rally video, he suggested that the "enemy" and sin were to blame for the hurricane.  
"Americans and internationals who live on the East Coast are suffering at the hands of the enemy. We know you are a good God. We know it didn't come from you, but it came from our sins, my sins, that came upon the land and hit part of our family. And so we pray for your angels to come and sovereignly meet the needs of those people who have lost everything."
Next, the Washington Blade reports that Pastor Luke Robinson of Quinn Chapel AME Church in Frederick, Maryland blamed support for LGBTQ equality for the storm. In an audio segment from an anti-Question 6 rally at Baker Park on November 4th, Robinson blamed several culprits for the hurricane: New York City's pride, Mayor Bloomberg's $250,000 donation to a same-sex marriage campaign, and the northeast's alleged rejection of truth.
"On October 28th, a storm hit New York, and one of the things that we have discussed and learned from New York is that New York is a proud city ... The Bible said this very clearly. Before a fall, pride cometh! And so here was the mayor of New York giving a quarter of a million dollars, coming down to Maryland discussing the matter. While he’s here, somebody whispers in the ear, you better go back home and protect your stock, because God is sending judgment ... God sent a storm that tore the place up, up in Massachusetts and all up in that lot because they have rejected the truth and the knowledge of God ... For all of your money you still can’t win if God says he’s on our side and we are on the side that can win and must win."
Later, Robinson claimed that this "mess" would not have happened if Christian pastors had been "on watch." It was unclear if the occurrence that would have never happened was Hurricane Sandy or an increasingly pro-LGBTQ cultural climate.
"To our shame, the church, where are they? To our shame, the pastors, where are they? This would have never happened if the pastors of this country had been on watch. But since they aren't on watch, we always got to play catch up ball. One day, you'll not be able to catch up because God will have had enough of this mess."
Every time a natural disaster devastates the land, I'm amazed at how quickly fundamentalists blame real or imagined human flaws. Some, like Lindsay, are well-meaning people whose theodicy leads them to unfortunate conclusions. Others are only too eager to blame groups they dislike for the devastation, relishing other's suffering and their own self-righteousness. Whatever their reasons, fundamentalists need to stop blaming disasters on human victims and alleged "sins".