Tuesday, April 29, 2014
CNN: Why God Does Not Belong at Graduation
Towleroad: Anti-Gay Wingnut Peter LaBarbera Chats with Harlem’s ‘Jesus Would Stone Homos’ Pastor
Religion Dispatches: Duggar Daughters Talk Sex, Courtship, and Fear of Ungodly Men
Politico: Rick Santorum bucks Republican orthodoxy in book
Relevant Magazine: How Not to Talk About Purity
Homeschoolers Anonymous: Why the Distance Between “Christian Patriarchy” and “Complementarianism” Is A Sleight Of Hand
Think Progress: How A New Book About Gay Christians Is Reviving Evangelical Homophobia
Godless in Dixie: Anti-human Theology: Learning to Hate Yourself
Pink News: NOM co-founder Maggie Gallagher: We should aim for a sub-culture of ‘traditional marriage’
The Advocate: Hispanic Evangelicals to Feature 'Ex-Gay' Speaker
Star Observer: California’s gay conversion therapy ban heads to Supreme Court
MSNBC: Transgender woman sues Christian university that expelled her
Daily Mail: Church of England split fear as African bishops speak out over clergy flouting a ban on same-sex weddings
Monday, April 28, 2014
Conference speakers include Susan Henson (co-author of purity-themed children's books such as Life Lessons from the Princess and the Kiss and Life Lessons from the Squire and the Scroll) Melanie Bogner (who has worked with the Children’s Institute in Basic Life Principles, a Bill Gothard ministry), and Marlae Gritter (executive vice president of Moms In Prayer International, a mother's ministry which places high value on sexual purity and "biblical womanhood").
"I believe Satan feeds us a lie that if we weren't pure, we cannot pass on that legacy of purity to our children, and that is exactly what it is. It's a lie." -- Maryann Loveing, Life Action Ministries
"Haley's Story" one of the conference promotional videos, presents modern girlhood as an ominous time. Things such as bad language, peer pressure, and "boy-crazy girls [and] the way they dress" make it difficult to cultivate purity, the narrator argues.
"Do you have any idea how hard it is being my age these days? It's like a video game, except you're the one getting shot at. We're seeing all this stuff and we don't even know it. It's the peer pressure, the bad language. Like, why can't they just say 'crackerjack'? It's the boy-crazy girls, the way they dress, and you should hear the things that the guys are saying. It's just really hard to have a pure heart these days. Oh, and FYI, I used to think this all started in about the fifth grade. No. Uh-uhn. Not anymore. Try the second grade."
As much as I support parents bonding with children and girls rejecting toxic messages from society, I wonder how closely this event will conform to other Christian purity messages. As purity culture performs outreach to girls through purity balls, pro-abstinence events such as Silver Ring Thing, and gatherings such as Pure in Heart, we need to consider the impact this will have on children.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Political Research Associates: Beyond Lively & Warren: U.S. Conservative Legal Groups Changing African Law to Persecute Sexual Minorities & Women
Right Wing Watch: Glenn Grothman Says John Kerry Upset God By Condemning Uganda's Anti-Gay Crackdown
Friendly Atheist: The (First) 7 Problems with the Hobby Lobby Bible Curriculum
RH Reality Check: Straight White Men Don’t Have to Fear the Anti-Sex Political Crusade
Recovering Grace: There Is No Victim: A Survey of IBLP Literature on Sexual Assault and Abuse
The New Civil Rights Movement: Mormon Leaders Omit ‘Gay’ In Survey Asking Students ‘What Is Your Sexual Orientation?’
Heresy in the Heartland: Not On Your Side, Debi
Rhymes with Religion: Sex offenders, faith communities, and four common exploitations
Alternet: How Christian Purity Culture Enabled My Step Dad to Sexually Abuse Me (Trigger warning)
Squalto Rant: The Mysterious Methods the Right Uses to Choose Its "Heroes"
Gin and Tacos: Freedom from Logic
Associated Press: Oklahoma District Bible Class: Sinners Will Suffer
ABC News: Are Evangelicals Out of Touch With Mainstream Views?
Huffington Post: Franklin Graham Says Gays Can Go To Heaven If They Repent
Raw Story: Christians have grabbed ‘theocratic control over public schools’ in Louisiana, critic says
Pink News: AFA: It’s not safe for Christians to be photographers, bakers, florists, teachers, innkeepers...
Religion News Service: Cedarville University shuts down dissenting student newspaper
WITF: Research on birth control contradicts comments from Bishop
The New Dawn: Liberia: Take definite stance on gay marriage, says Catholic priest
London Evening Standard: 'Deport this wicked Nigerian witch-hunter as a danger to children'
The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church took place on March 28th at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. Sponsored by Saddleback Church, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, and NAMI Orange County, the event was intended to help Christian leaders better serve those struggling with mental health problems. R. L. Stollar was kind enough to live-tweet the event on Twitter, and an archive of his tweets is available at Storify.
Saddleback Church founder Rick Warren and Orange Diocese Bishop Kevin Vann opened the conference with a plenary session entitled "The Role of the Church in Mental Health". Warren and Vann's conversation centered around compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, including the need to transcend labels and stigma. Both men understood the need for community responses to mental illness, specifically from the Christian community. However, some of Warren's comments about history, health care, and self-awareness left me uneasy.
"This is going to be a day of hope," Warren announced, stressing that the Christian community must take a leadership role in helping those with mental illness. Warren emphasized the importance of healing in Christian scriptures, reminding the audience that "Jesus had a ministry of healing" alongside preaching and teaching. Citing a statement by Rep. Tim Murphy on the federal government's approach to mental health -- "a chaotic patchwork of antiquated programs and ineffective policies across numerous agencies" -- Warren called the current state of mental health services a "wide open door for churches"
Much of the plenary talk focused on transcending labels and eliminating stigma associated with mental illness. Warren spoke of his own struggles with depression and anxiety in the early days of Saddleback Church, stressing to the audience that it's okay to struggle with mental health issues. He joked that he's like to write a book entitled I'm Not Okay, You're Not Okay, but God's Okay. At the 23:33 mark, Warren hoped that the conference would help lessen the stigma surrounding mental illness.
"Now another one of the purposes of this day is to remove the stigma and reduce the fear, because we all know there's a lot of stigma and there's a a lot of fear about mental illness ... Even the term "mental illness" is a stigma because in most people's mind, mental illness equals insane or crazy. Everybody struggles with different kinds of mental illness, and very few are insane."At the 25:34 mark, Bishop Vann urged listeners to look past mental health labels and instead see the people behind those labels.
"I think in some ways western culture or American culture tends to rely on labels, and we do that. We have to sometimes, but they're limiting in a lot of ways, no matter what the label might be ... We always have to let the Lord help us look to see the person behind the label that comes to us for help or healing."Warren and Vann talked at length about the interconnectedness of mental, physical, relational, and spiritual health. Sin, Warren explained, impacts these areas. All things on earth have been rendered imperfect because of sin, he argued, noting that bodies, minds, relationships, economies, and a host of other systems fail to function perfectly because of sin's influence.
Two segments of the plenary session left me uneasy. First, at the 28:25 mark, Warren told listeners that they need not believe everything their mind tell them, citing Jeremiah 17:9.
"You don't have to believe everything you think ... I don't have to believe everything I think, because the Bible says the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Who can know it? Your mind lies to you all the time. Did you know that? Your brain lies to you all the time. You see things you didn't really see, like in an accident--that's why [with] four witnesses at an accident, four people see different things ... Just because you thought it doesn't mean it's true. That's very important. And a lot of things you tell yourself about you are lies. They're just not true."I think I understand what Warren was trying to say: mental health problems can put thoughts in our heads that don't reflect reality, and we shouldn't let those thoughts rule us. For example, someone with untreated schizophrenia might have delusions or hallucinations. Someone with severe depression might be tormented by thoughts saying you're worthless, you're alone, nothing matters, but these thoughts aren't rooted in reality.
However, I think Warren could have expressed this truth differently. Warren's words could be misconstrued to mean that the input one receives from one's mind should be ignored when mental illness strikes. What if that input is valuable? What if those negative thoughts are offering insight, or pointing out something that is genuinely wrong? What if painful emotions are responses to genuine problems? It's important to listen to what our minds tell us. Our thoughts, emotions, and memories matter, and we disregard them at our peril.
Too often, people with mental illness are invalidated by others who say, it's all in your head or you shouldn't feel that way or [insert trauma] didn't happen. Instead of telling people with mental illness that their minds are telling them "lies", we should listen to them and validate their experiences.
The second passage that I disagreed with was Warren's attitude toward Christian and secular health care. At the 17:05 mark, he claimed that Christians invented hospitals and that the government doesn't have the same historical experience in treating sickness as the Christian community does.
"Most people don't realize the church invented the hospital. Did you know that? Christians invented [it]. The government didn't invent the hospital. Christians invented it. That's why you go to any hospital -- St. Joseph's, St. Mary's, St. Patrick's, and on and on. Why? Because you go into any country, usually the first school and the first hospital were started by missionaries because we have a preaching-teaching-healing faith. So, not only is there a biblical reason for caring for people of physical illness, mental illness, and other kinds of illnesses -- Jesus was out model -- but we have a 2,000 year history. The church has a longer history in dealing with this than any government."
Warren's words floored me. His statement not only ignored the vast contributions of secular medical institutions, but was historically inaccurate. In reality, healing institutions were features of many ancient societies. For example, the Charakasamhita, an ancient Indian healing text, provides directions for the construction of hospitals. In ancient Greece, temples devoted to Asclepius served as public hospitals. The ancient Roman valetudinarias are believed to have served as military hospitals for sick and injured troops. Public institutions devoted to medicine were present in pre-Christian cultures, and were certainly not a Christian invention. While Christianity has a long history of serving the sick, it is not the only tradition to do so.
By downplaying the role of the government in healing, Warren also ignored the vast contributions of governmental policies and organizations in promoting public health. For example, public hospitals receive much of their funding from federal, state, and local governments. Federal government agencies fund and coordinate countless health-related services. By insisting that "the government didn't invent the hospital" and "[t]he church has a longer history in dealing with this than any government", Warren disregarded the hard work of countless people employed, funded, or trained by the government. If we as a society are going to address mental illness, we need all hands on deck, including governmental hands. Collaboration among stakeholders, not competition, best serves people with mental health struggles.
I'm pleased that the Gathering on Mental Health and the Church is drawing the faith community's attention to mental health issues, and that Warren and Vann are urging believers to show compassion to brethren struggling with mental illness. Communities of faith must be aware of how pervasive mental illness is in society, as well as how they can support those with mental health problems. However, this undertaking is ambitious, and I do wonder if some corners of the Christian community are up to the task. In order to support people with mental illness, religious communities must do some soul searching.
- Are religious leaders equipped to help those with mental health issues? Are they prepared to seek out training so as to respond to help-seekers in a sensitive, appropriate manner? Are they willing to keep up with the latest developments in the counseling field? Are they willing to collectively reject dubious "treatments" such as so-called conversion therapy?
- Are faith communities willing to network with secular service providers? Ties to outside mental health service providers and medical professionals are essential, and the more insular churches and faith organizations need to establish these networks.
- Are Christian communities willing to look at how unhealthy church structures and teachings fuel mental health problems? If believers are to confront mental illness, they also need to confront clergy abuse, interpersonal violence, dysfunctional family structures, homophobia, misogyny, toxic religious teachings, and a host of other problems afflicting many churches. When a religious leader abuses a child, when a Christian "ex-gay" ministry tries to "cure" an LGBTQ person, when a pastor tells an abused woman to endure the abuse, or when a congregation embraces beliefs that instill fear and self-loathing, they inflict trauma that can cause or exacerbate mental illnesses. Is the Christian community ready to confront its collective demons for the sake of those with mental health issues?
- Are Christian communities ready to listen? Among the Religious Right, at least, mental illness have been attributed to everything from demons to impiety as part of its ongoing insensitivity toward those with mental health struggles. Are Christian communities across the political spectrum willing to set aside assumptions and stereotypes and listen to those who are struggling?
As I watch more videos of the Gathering on Mental Health and the Church, I'm eager to see if these issues will be addressed.
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
Overturning Tables: Jesus Is Not Our Zoloft: Reflections on Mental Health and the Church
Political Research Associates: Saddleback’s Approach to Mental Health Issues Misses the Mark For LGBTQ People
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Edge on the Net: (Don’t) Eat, Pray, Hate: Christian Organization Plans 40 Day Fast Against Marriage
One Step Behind: Patriarchy
Salon: 8 most absurd lessons Americans teach kids about sex
Religion Dispatches: Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Patriarchal Christian Group
Donald Miller: Are American Christians Really Being Oppressed, Or Are They Just Whining?
GLAAD: The rise of toxic terminology: Losing anti-LGBT movement turns to corrosive labeling
Daily Kos: Phyllis Schlafly Gets Schooled By A Twelve Year-Old
The Telegraph: David Cameron fosters division by calling Britain a 'Christian country’
The Independent: Section 28-style bans on promoting homosexuality on the rise in UK schools, teachers say
Gay Star News: Uganda preacher Martin Ssempa, who demanded anti-gay law, may be charged under anti-gay law
The head of Ali Forney Center, a homeless shelter for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in New York, had issued a personal call to Pope Francis for LGBTQ inclusion. Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, recently penned an open letter to Pope Francis. Siciliano, a Roman Catholic and former Benedictine monk, issued a heartfelt call for the Catholic church to reject homophobic teachings and embrace LGBTQ youth. The letter was published in the Palm Sunday edition of the New York Times and paid for by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Home Furnishings, according to the Washington Blade.
Siciliano reminds Pope Francis that religious rejection is a common reason why LGBTQ youth are forced out of their homes. At the root of this problem, he argues, is that many Christian churches still preach that homosexuality is sinful and disordered. These toxic teachings have a "poisonous outcome" for LGBTQ youth, yielding a "bitter harvest" for too many families.
"A teaching’s wisdom and efficacy must be judged in part by its outcome. The teaching that homosexual conduct is a sin has a poisonous outcome, bearing fruit in many Christian parents who abandon their LGBT children to homelessness and destitution. How could a good seed yield such a bitter harvest?Once ejected or driven out of their homes, LGBTQ homeless youth find themselves at the mercy of cold, hunger, and predators on the street, he writes. Confronted with ugly street realities and rejected by their families, homeless LGBTQ youth are at high risk for suicide compared to LGBTQ youth who are accepted by their loved ones.
For me this tragedy has many human faces. I see Justin, whose mother, before throwing him out of his home, summoned a priest who held him to the ground and tried to drive the devil out of the 16 year old boy. Or Terry, who was sent to a Catholic religion class where the instructor set him aside as someone “possessed by demons”. When his mother threw him out, she said that she would rather he die in the streets than live in her home if he was gay. I recall Maria, whose family drove her to a forest far from her home and abandoned her, throwing her from the car, because being a lesbian made her “evil”. I think of the boy whose name I never learned whose father was so disgusted by homosexuality that he threw his son out of his home and said he would kill him and bury him in the backyard if he tried to return."
For the sake of such youth, Siciliano urges Pope Francis to discard the Catholic teaching that homosexuality is a sin.
"The Roman Catholic Church is the largest and most influential Christian organization in the world. By teaching that homosexual conduct is a sin, and that the homosexual orientation is disordered, it influences countless parents and families in societies across the globe to reject their children. In the name of these children, and in light of the love and compassion at the heart of the message of Jesus, I ask that you end this teaching ... I ask you to recognize that the condemnation of homosexuality is also cruel and wrong, and rooted in a primitive, obsolete understanding of human sexuality. I ask you to join the growing number of church communities and religious denominations who have chosen to welcome and embrace us with love and acceptance."Finally, Siciliano invited Pope Francis to visit the Ali Forney Center and meet young people whose lives were torn asunder by religious homophobia.
"I greatly respect you as a leader who has shown deep concern for the plight of the poor. I invite you to the Ali Forney Center, to meet our abandoned youths and see for yourself how their lives have been devastated and made destitute by religious rejection. I believe that there is no more compelling witness to the harmfulness of the condemnation of homosexuality than the consequent suffering plainly visible in the eyes of our homeless LGBT youths."I applaud Siciliano, the Ali Forney Center, and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Home Furnishings for speaking out against religious homophobia and supporting LGBTQ youth. The compassion of Siciliano's letter contrasts sharply with the callousness and ignorance of voices from the Religious Right, who do not comprehend the suffering that homeless LGBTQ youth endure. Let's hope that Siciliano's letter has raised awareness, thereby awakening more people to their moral duty to abandon homophobia.
Monday, April 21, 2014
Hausdorff's Bible Blog: Indoctrination and Child Abuse
Dianna E. Anderson: The Good Guy Illusion
The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person: Let’s talk about Christian culture and the concept of consent in relationships
Gay Star News: Ralph Reed unsure if children do best in orphanages or same-sex families
The Globe and Mail: Human-rights tribunal probing student's complaints of homophobic discrimination at Catholic school
Pink News: Franklin Graham: Putin is ‘doing what’s right for Russia’ with anti-gay laws
Sunday, April 20, 2014
In an April 18th blog post at Generations with Vision, Swanson insists that while he endorses the "Biblical" mandate for male headship, he is not a "patriarchal-ist". He explains to readers that he condones women seeking college educations, earning degrees, traveling abroad, and assuming positions of civil government leadership. Swanson defends his position by redefining the word "patriarchy" to refer to the Old Testament patriarchs, something different than what his critics meant.
"1. The Bible employs the Greek word “patriarchy” to refer to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Acts 2:29; 7:8,9;, Heb. 7:4), and I’m not Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It would be arrogant for me to assume that I will bear the influence of men like this over the next 2000 years.Swanson argues that the word "patriarchy" is used to disparage Christians who obey Ephesians 5, in which Paul commands wives to submit to their husbands. "I also like to point out that the nuclear family is weaker than it has ever been, because Betty Friedan and a million of her friends hate Ephesians 5:22-33," he wrote. Swanson characterized such critics as people "incorrigibly attached to hollow ad hominems, straw man manufacturing, and guilt-by-association arguments".
2. Rather, the Bible calls the husband (me), the “head” as Christ is head of the church (Eph. 5:23). This is clear biblical language, and for those still out there who believe the Bible, it’s okay to use biblical language."
Considering Swanson's long-standing support for patriarchal values and organizations, his rejection of the "patriarchal-ist" label is ridiculous. As recently as last year, Swanson participated in a history conference hosted by Vision Forum, a decidedly patriarchal organization. His disdain for feminism, independent women, and female empowerment measures is well-documented at Right Wing Watch. Furthermore, during the January 8th edition of his radio show entitled "Sexting and Christian Modesty", Swanson was unapologetic in his celebration of male headship and female submission. (More here.) At the 13:27 mark, Swanson holds up the patriarchal model of marriage as ideal.
"Friends, if you're interested in the kind of character traits that God requires, and if you're interested in rebuilding the nuclear family, functional nuclear family with husband and wife where the wife is trained to ... submit herself to her husband, and the husband is trained to give himself up self-sacrificially for his wife, he's not the selfish pig little boy that's doing porn in the basement and learns how to be self-centered with his masturbation when he's 18 or 19 years of age, and then he lives a self-centered lifestyle until he's 29 years of age, then he finally gets married, and then he gets divorced at 36. Okay, that's the other worldview."At the 9:24 mark, on the topic of raising daughters, he rejects feminist values in favor of female silence and meekness. He cites Biblical passages such as Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 2, which encourage female submission and deference to authority.
"If you're going to give your daughters a godly raising, or a good raising, you've got to define character properly. When I was interviewed by the mainstream media on this issue of the Girl Scouts, the guy asked me, "Well, what kind of values would you promote? What exactly is it that you're interested in? I said, a Biblical value. I'm interested in establishing a Biblical value for raising daughters, not just the feminist values, but the Biblical values. He says, "What are those?" I say, Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 2 talks about how women ought to be meek and quiet, and they ought to learn in silence, and they ought to be modest in dress and saved in childbearing, and she fears God."What observers can plainly see is that patriarchy is patriarchy. Misogyny is misogyny. Full stop. Playing fast and loose with word definitions doesn't change the fact that Swanson has consistently endorsed male dominance and female subordination. Patriarchy is unfair and unjust, no matter how Swanson frames it.
Julie Anne at Spiritual Sounding Board sums up the matter succinctly.
"Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard have wreaked havoc on Patriarchy. Proponents of Patriarchy will be quick to say that these two men were in sin and believed in the wrong kind of Patriarchy, because when Patriarchy works the right way, it is beautiful, yada yada.
It’s not a matter of what kind of Patriarchy, or the wrong kind of Patriarchy, or substituting a nicer word. When women are treated as objects, as personal property, when they are not allowed to question, to think for themselves, that is wrong. When a woman has to surrender to a man who uses sex to “conquer” her, that is wrong. When a woman must go through her husband as mediator to get to God, that is wrong."
Gothard's ministry was popular among Quiverfull Christians and respected by the Duggar family, according to Religion News Service and No Longer Quivering. Radar Online reports that Megan Lind, one of the women who accused Gothard of sexual harassment, wrote an open letter to the Duggars urging them to reconsider their endorsement of Gothard's ministry.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) expressed concern over allegations that Bob Jones University officials helped Bill Gothard cover up sexual harassment allegations against Gothard's brother. In a March 27th statement, SNAP urged Bob Jones University to hire an outside firm to investigate these claims, arguing that "it's best to err on the side of protecting the vulnerable and wounded, not the accused and the powerful."
Now, Gothard has finally commented at length on the scandal. In a statement at Bill Gothard's website, which was previously withheld "in order to honor the request of the Board of Directors to wait until an initial review has taken place", Gothard sent mixed messages. On one hand, Gothard admitted to inappropriately touching young women at his organizational headquarters. However, he insists that none of this touching was sexual in nature or intent.
"My actions of holding of hands, hugs, and touching of feet or hair with young ladies crossed the boundaries of discretion and were wrong. They demonstrated a double-standard and violated a trust. Because of the claims about me I do want to state that I have never kissed a girl nor have I touched a girl immorally or with sexual intent."I found Gothard's excuses flimsy. How on earth does an old man touch the hair and feet of young women without sexual intent? What about accusations of more extreme harassing behaviors? Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism also finds Gothard's excuses hard to swallow.
"Does Gothard honestly expect anyone to believe that a 50 or 60-year-old man could play footsie with a 16-year-old girl, hold and stroke her hands for long periods of time, caress her hair, etc., all without any “sexual intent”? Especially a 50 or 60-year-old man who leads a religious empire and teaches his followers that couples should not touch or have physical contact before marriage? Why in the world, if not with “sexual intent,” would Gothard touch these girls like this, violating not only his own rules but also the girls’ consent and their parents’ trust?Much like the scandal involving Vision Forum's Doug Phillips, the Bill Gothard scandal demonstrates that cults of personality, misogyny, and fundamentalism make for a toxic brew. Religious insularity and patriarchy protect no one; to the contrary, they may have played a role in Gothard's alleged behavior by rendering young women even more vulnerable. Should it be any surprise that such allegations are being lobbed at a man whose organization promotes callous attitudes toward sexual abuse survivors? Whose so-called "umbrella of protection" gives men unfair power over women and authority figures unfair power over subordinates? As more information about the Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard scandals becomes available, let's hope that their followers begin to question the hollow promises of Christian Patriarchy and fundamentalist homeschooling.
Honestly, Gothard’s claim that he never “touched a girl . . . with sexual intent” sounds rather like Clinton’s wrangling about the definition of “sexual relations.” He’s lawyering, and transparently so. He’s not being completely honest, complete transparent. He’s still making excuses and trying to wheedle out of what he did. He’s still trying to find the least offensive crime to confess to so that he can get out of responsibility for the whole that happened."
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
Ramblings of Sheldon: Recovering Grace Founders Speak to Christian Radio Show About Bill Gothard
Micah J. Murray: On Growing Up in Bill Gothard’s Homeschool Cult
Chicago Now: Bill Gothard still goes uninvestigated by police
The Wartburg Watch: Recovering Grace Confronts Bill Gothard
The Bilerico Project: Novelist Says Gays Should Thank Jesus For Their Rights
Right Wing Watch: Bachmann's Ex-Gay Ally Says Satan Is Using Celebrities To Spread Gay 'Filth'
A Cry for Justice: Attitudes that Promote Abuse in the Church: Major System Flush Needed
Pink News: ‘Gay cure’ defense group sells coffee to raise legal funds
The Atlantic: An Ex- Ex-Gay Lesbian Pastor Preaches Tolerance in Brazil
The Advocate: Activists Seek Funds to Flee Violent Homophobia in Uganda
Saturday, April 19, 2014
"These easy ideas to complex questions are very appealing when you are emotionally vulnerable. What happens is that circular logic takes over. Moon is one with God. God is going to fix all the the problems in the world. All I have to do is humbly follow, because God is going to stop war, end hunger, all these things I wanted to do. All I have to do is humbly follow, because after all, God is the Messiah. He's going to fix all this. It becomes impenetrable, and the most dangerous part of this is that it creates us and them, right and wrong, good and evil. And it makes anything possible. It makes anything rationalizable."
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Daily Beast: Sex Scandal Rocks the Duggars’ Christian Patriarchy Movement (Trigger warning)
Huffington Post: Doug Phillips' Biblical Patriarchy Scandal Moves to the Courts
Feminist in Spite of Them: Oh Daughters of Fundamentalism, Take Upon Yourselves the Cloak of Self-deception
Christian Post: Head of the Home School Legal Defense Association Blasts Doug Phillips' Biblical Patriarchy Practices
Raw Story: Creationist Ken Ham: Victory was mine as soon as Bill Nye agreed to debate
Religion News Service: Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green launches a new project: a public school Bible curriculum
Religion News Service: Activists call on British government to deport African exorcist
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
At the time, little information was available on the nature of his sexual misconduct or the identity of the woman in question. Now, a shocking article and a lawsuit have brought more information to light.
According to an April 15th article in WND (trigger warning), a woman named Lourdes Torres Manteufel recently filed a complaint against Phillips in Kendall County District Court in Texas. Torres, now 29, helped care for Phillips' children, assisted with the Phillips' farm, and accompanied the family on trips around the U.S., the article states. Torres claims that Doug Phillips gave her "special attention" starting in 2007, including compliments and money. After she moved into the Phillips' home, Doug Phillips sexually assaulted her, despite her tearful pleas for him to stop, according to her lawsuit. Phillips promised her that his wife would die soon and that he would marry her, Torres claims.
The suit insists that Phillips manipulated Torres into helping him in his business endeavors from 2008 to 2012, during which unwanted sexual contact continued. Torres said that she stopped working alongside Phillips and attending his congregation in late 2012. An attorney for Phillips insists that any intimacy between Torres and Phillips was consensual, WND reports.
In a copy of the civil case complaint obtained by WND (trigger warning), Torres seeks monetary damages for sexual battery, assault, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress that Phillips allegedly perpetrated against her. Her complaint paints a picture of Phillips' "unregulated community" as an insular circle of people convinced that "they are engaged in a cosmic war". The complaint explains that Torres would have had difficulty extricating herself from Phillips' influence due to "limited access to outside support as she came to see her situation as abusive".
"Douglas Phillips created a sociological environment that operated as a “total institution.” The total institution concept is used to describe an environment where a person is exclusively surrounded by a large number of similarly situated people. In other words, people within a total institution work together, worship together, spend leisure and recreational time together, and even dwell together. Thus, a person within a total institution is cut off from the normal world entirely. As a closed and tightly knit unit of people, total institutions lead an enclosed and uniquely administered round of life that is peculiar to its own characteristics and beliefs ... Phillips carefully, intentionally, and effectively closed off all access to outside intervention and support necessary for her to challenge him."The complaint also casts Phillips' Christian Patriarchy subculture as profoundly misogynist, stating that it "teaches that men are, and should be, in absolute control of women", who exist for "producing children, caring for the men, and rearing the children". Female submission to male authority is understood as "the natural and God-given order", a belief that would have given Phillips great control over his household. Torres was effectively groomed by these attitudes to such an extent that she could not give meaningful consent to Phillips' sexual overtures, the complaint argues.
According to the complaint, women in the movement are scapegoated and blamed for men's inappropriate behavior (sound familiar?), a strategy that undermines their self-esteem and drives them deeper into submission. It observes that Christian Patriarchy ideology is toxic, contributing to the mistreatment of women and girls in the Christian Patriarchy subculture. "The attitudes that produce these ideas are what leads to physical, mental, verbal, spiritual, and sexual abuse of both women and daughters within the patriarchal movement," it says.
These sexual assault accusation are serious charges that must be taken seriously by the legal system. The lawsuit has dealt another black eye to the Christian Patriarchy movement, and its response to the lawsuit will be telling. At the very least, Torres' lawsuit corroborates what observers have been saying about the Christian Patriarchy movement for years: its misogynist ideology denigrates women and girls, and its insularity makes it difficult for females to escape.
Christian Patriarchy insularity is intended to keep families safe from "the world". Home churches, homeschooling, and social networks comprised of other fundamentalist Christians are intended to protect believers from "the world", which is imagined as a dangerous, corrupting influence. Insularity is not the same thing as safety, and it will not protect communities from dangers within their midst. To boot, it can make it even more difficult for victims and concerned bystanders to reach out for help or escape. Let's hope that the Torres suit helps Christian Patriarchy adherents realize this.
Phillips' innocence or guilt is ultimately for the courts to decide. Still, I find it ironic that a man who trumpeted his faith's alleged protection of women now finds himself accused of victimizing a young woman. Will this lawsuit shine light on ugly corners of the Christian Patriarchy movement? Will mainstream society finally scrutinize this hidden, patriarchal subculture? Will members of the Christian Patriarchy movement finally start to ask themselves difficult questions?
For additional commentary, visit the following links.
Spiritual Sounding Board: Lourdes Torres, Alleged Victim in the Doug Phillips (Vision Forum) Sex Abuse Scandals Files Lawsuit
Love, Joy, Feminism: Doug Phillips: The Rest of the Story
Right Wing Watch: Religious Right Leader Sued For Sexual Battery, Treating Young Follower Like A 'Personal Sex Object'
The Daily Beast: Sex Scandal Rocks the Duggars' Christian Patriarchy Movement
Together We Overcome: Supporting Lourdes Torres Manteufel
New Republic: Patrick Henry College: You Can Trust Us to Fix Our Sexual Assault Problem
No Shame Movement: Between Two Worlds: Black Christian Men and Purity Culture
The Advocate: I'm a Gay Guy at a Christian College
Good As You: Iowa's Governor Signs Truly Unbelievable Proclamation
Moving Beyond Absolutes: Kevin Swanson's program about recovering from sexual abuse
RH Reality Check: Portrait of an Anti-Abortion ‘Abolitionist’
Bartholomew's Notes on Religion: Child-Witch Exorcist Helen Ukpabio Comes to London
New Orleans Times-Picayune: Louisiana House votes 27-66 to keep unconstitutional anti-sodomy law on the books
KATU News: Students protest Day of Silence with anti-gay T-shirts
Al Jazeera America: Residents protest against Church of Wells
Huffington Post: Homosexuality Is The Result Of Childhood Sexual Abuse, According To Richard Land
Ms. Magazine: Virginia Bishops Advocate More Abortion Restrictions for Poor Women
WLTX 19: State Senator Compares Planned Parenthood to Hitler
Star Observer: Vigil highlights the trauma of ex-gay practices in Australia
Channel 4 News: Controversial 'witch hunter' Helen Ukpabio comes to London
Washington Post: Planned anti-gay rally in Ethiopia is cancelled
NPR: Pray Or Prey? Cameroon's Pentecostal Churches Face Crackdown
Every year, I attend a crime victims vigil in my hometown, in which anti-violence advocates, law enforcement officials, political leaders, clergy, and former crime victims speak on behalf of the victimized. The gathering never fails to humble me when I realize how devoted these people are to serving victims and seeking justice. How many lives have been saved, how many souls are now thriving because of their work? Too many to count.
As of late, I've been thinking about American fundamentalists, crime, and insularity. Some fundamentalist subcultures grow insular in a misguided attempt to shut out undesirable influences. Convinced that some ominous other seeks to contaminate them or harm them, they retreat into subcultural bubbles, shunning non-fundamentalists, non-Christians, LGBTQs, and anyone they deem too worldly. The problem is, the greatest danger to fundamentalists is the crime that persists in their own communities, among themselves and their neighbors. Violence and trauma come not from outsiders, but all too often from their fellow fundamentalists: parents, spouses, mentors, and employers. These violent crimes are not recognized as such, which makes them so difficult for fundamentalists to address.
It's a crime when parents physically brutalize their children.
It's a crime when a husband abuses his wife.
It's a crime when a husband sexually assaults his wife.
It's a crime when someone in a position of authority abuses their station to commit acts of violence.
No amount of scripture or bad theology can erase these simple facts. Those inside fundamentalist subcultures who have experienced violence are crime victims, and they deserve justice. Those inside fundamentalist subcultures who brutalize others are perpetrators, and they must be held accountable. A major undertaking before us is to help fundamentalists understand violence not as parental discipline, not as a husband's prerogative, not as a leader's indiscretion, but as a crime.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Homeschoolers Anonymous: Plowshares into Skyhooks: The Evolution (Intelligent Design?) of Bible Games
Washington Post: Same-sex marriage is new test for Catholic institutions used to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’
Huffington Post: Protecting Our LGBT Youth From Conversion Therapy
Media Matters: Fired Fox Sports Employee Is Now Working For An Anti-Gay Hate Group
Think Progress: 5 Offensive Analogies Abstinence-Only Lessons Use To Tell Teens Sex Makes Them Dirty
Friendly Atheist: This Is How Bizarre and Ineffective Sex Education Is In Mississippi Schools
Defeating the Dragons: Why purity culture doesn’t teach consent
Pennlive: Toomey and Santorum give conservatives what they want at annual Pennsylvania gathering
Dallas Morning News: Religious conservatives warn GOP against holding convention in Vegas
Edge Boston: ’Conversion Therapy’ Ban Defeated in Illinois House
Huffington Post: Mike Huckabee: 'I'm Not A Hater. I'm Not Homophobic.'
Masslive: Scott Lively, anti-gay Massachusetts candidate for governor, gets Pink Brick Award for 'significant harm to the LGBT community'
MSNBC: Gubernatorial candidate Scott Lively: Homosexuality is similar to alcoholism
Raw Story: Pro-LGBT church turns tables by using ‘religious freedom’ to save gay Boy Scout leader
Washington Post: Africa’s anti-gay movement spreads to Ethiopia
The Advocate: LGBT Ugandans In Hiding, Suicidal Following 'Jail the Gays' Law
Friday, April 11, 2014
Homophobic and transphobic bullying is an ugly reality for many LGBTQ youth. Research shows that LGBTQ youth report disproportionate rates of bullying, sexual harassment, and harsh school discipline. Lowered quality of life and negative psychological outcomes, such as depression and suicidal thoughts, are the all-too-common results.
LGBTQ youth deserve better than this. All students deserve safe, respectful school environments in which they can learn.
The Day of Silence is a thorn in the side of the Religious Right, many of whom refuse to take anti-LGBTQ bullying seriously. For example, several Religious Right groups have endorsed the Day of Silence Walkout, an event created in resistance to the Day of Silence. Also, Focus on the Family sponsors a rival event called the Day of Dialogue, which encourages students to talk about "the truth about God’s deep love for us and what the Bible really says about His redemptive design for marriage and sexuality". On the surface, the Day of Dialogue discourages bullying, but its true purpose is to enshrine binary gender and heterosexual marriage as the only legitimate expressions of gender identity and sexuality.
Anti-LGBTQ figures continue to ignore the facts, but the reality is that LGBTQ youth face an uphill battle, and we have an obligation to support them. Here's to ending homophobic and transphobia in schools and in society as a whole.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Salon: Christian right mega-church minister faces mega-mutiny for alleged abusive behavior
Doctors of the World: World Vision USA’s gay marriage U-turn is callous and cowardly
Huffington Post: I Was Blocked From Hiring a Gay Person at World Vision Canada
Guttmacher Institute: Contraceptive Coverage at the U.S. Supreme Court: Countering the Rhetoric with Evidence
Right Wing Watch: Scott Lively Releasing New Edition of The Pink Swastika to Expose Gay 'Pinkshirts'
RH Reality Check: A Global Look at the Right’s Anti-Gay Rhetoric
New York Times: New York City Can Block Religious Services in Public Schools, Appeals Court Says
KFOR 4: ‘Leaving in a hurry,’ hundreds of residents chase Westboro protesters out of Oklahoma town
Oregon Live: Gay marriage 'a sin, just the same as murder,' says GOP candidate for Oregon governor
Los Angeles Times: Sex education stumbles in Mississippi
Radar Online: Alleged Victim Pleads With The Duggars To Stop Supporting Ministry Where Founder Was Accused Of Sexually Harassing More Than 35 Women
Charlotte Observer: Nearly 1,000 attend Charlotte Catholic meeting on nun’s speech
The Local: France wakes up to 'new age of extreme right'
Monday, April 7, 2014
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adolescents make up a disproportionate percentage of homeless youth, struggling on the streets after running away or being kicked out of their homes. Despite ample research on LGBT youth homelessness and heartbreaking personal accounts from survivors, some Religious Right figures still lack compassion for LGBT youth on the streets. A recent post at Right Wing Watch shows that Linda Harvey, host of the Mission America radio show, is such a figure.
During the April 4th edition of Mission America entitled "Homosexual Health Issues Part 2", Linda Harvey discussed a Kaiser Foundation report on LGBT health. Health Care Access and Coverage for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community in the United States: Opportunities and Challenges in a New Era, released in February, explores health issues faced by the LGBT community, particularly as they relate to health care coverage and the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, Harvey seemed more interested in disparaging the LGBT community than dissecting the report's findings.
Harvey depicted the LGBT persons as sinners mired in unhealthy lifestyles, ignoring the wider context of health issues facing the LGBT community. She reminded listeners that gay men and transgender women -- "biological men who want to be known as women", as she described them -- have higher suicide and HIV rates due to the "risks of homosexual living".
At the 2:21 mark, Harvey alleged that the Kaiser report ignores personal responsibility. She refused to give serious consideration to the role of trauma and bigotry in LGBT health problems, insisting that LGBT people "still choose sin". Harvey showed little compassion to LGBT homeless youth, whom she accused of running away out of spite when their parents set boundaries.
"In this Kaiser report, the reason is not personal responsibility or poor choices, but always the family's fault or society's rejection and discrimination. And I just want to say that while of course the reaction of other people has a big impact on anyone, the bottom line is these people still choose sin. The picture is one where the sinful behavior is the most important thing of all. These are often complicated situations that can't be put in a box called everyone-else's-fault. When we're talking about people who are reported elsewhere in this Kaiser paper as having more mental health issues, that means they often have serious instability that results in poor decisions, sometimes tragic ones. Let's talk about homelessness, for instance, which sadly, this report tells us is high among self-declared homosexual and gender-confused adolescents.If Harvey had taken the time to learn about runaway and homeless LGBT youth, she might have more empathy. Multiple studies suggest that many LGBT youth run away from home to escape abuse, or find themselves kicked out by homophobic or transphobic parents.
‘Kids are kicked out of their homes just for being who they are,’ is how the saying goes. Well, let me offer another possibility that I’ve heard far too often. A parent learns that a son or daughter is claiming to be gay, but an underage child still lives at home, so the now-heartbroken parent puts new restrictions on some of the activities, like for instance, the teen is no longer going to be having sleepovers with that same-sex friend, or if that friend is a college student or has an apartment, visits over there will not be permitted. What does the teen do? It may become a fight where the teen storms out by choice and leaves voluntarily because the homosexual relationship is more important than that of his or her parents. And when that all-important relationship ends, the teen is too stubborn or already too involved in alcohol or drugs or the premature independence of the homosexual life, and he or she would rather drift than return home. It’s not always the case, of course, but personal decisions are at the heart of these issues."
According to a 2012 Williams Institute report on service providers who serve LGBT homeless youth, 43% of homeless LGBT youth have been forced out of their homes by their parents because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Equally disturbing was the report's finding that 32% were on the streets to escape emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse at home, and 14% were on the streets because of emotional or financial neglect from their family. According to another study, 50% of gay males received a negative reaction from their parents when they disclosed their sexual orientation. In a quarter of those cases, the parents demanded that the youth leave home. To boot, one third of LGBT youth were assaulted by a family member when they came out. Yet another study found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual homeless adolescents were more likely to have been physically and sexually abused by their caretakers. Finally, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that LGBT youth were more likely than heterosexual youth to leave home due to physical abuse.
Once on the streets, LGBT youth find themselves in dangerous, sordid surroundings. Homeless LGBTQ youth are at higher risk of physical assault, sexual victimization, substance abuse, and mental health issues than their heterosexual counterparts, according to one study. Other studies suggest that gay, lesbian, and bisexual homeless youth are at greater risk of contracting HIV than their heterosexual counterparts, due in part to high-risk survival strategies such as transactional sex. If many LGBT homeless youth have endured traumas at home and on the street, it should not surprise us that some develop depression or anxiety as a result, or that others anesthetize their pain with alcohol and drugs. Without access to safe spaces and services, many homeless youth are vulnerable to violence and forced to take desperate measures to survive. These young people need help. not bigotry.
LGBT adolescents aren't storming out of their homes in a huff because their parents laid down rules, nor are they living on the streets to spite their families. These youth are being driven out of frightening homes by bigoted parents, abuse, neglect, and fear. These youth -- all homeless youth -- deserve services, safe spaces, and compassion. They also deserve families and communities that accept them, respect them, and provide them with safe sanctuaries. Linda Harvey and her ilk are doing LGBT youth no favors by blaming victims or by obscuring the real roots of LGBT youth homelessness.
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
Truth Wins Out: Linda Harvey Says Homeless LGBT Teens Are Just Being ‘Stubborn’
Queerty: Linda Harvey Attacks Homeless LGBT Youth, Continues Descent Into Evil
The American Jesus: We Need New Wineskins (Or Why Evangelicalism Needs To Be Abandoned)
Mother Jones: It's Not Just Hobby Lobby: These 71 Companies Don't Want to Cover Your Birth Control Either
Gay Star News: How Girl Scout cookies got caught up with abortion and gay rights
Al Jazeera America: The Bitter Tears of the American Christian Supermajority
Washington Post: Anti-abortion company Hobby Lobby reportedly invests retirement funds in abortion drugs
Edge Boston: LGBT Activists Protest Homophobic Harlem Church
National Catholic Reporter: USCCB's clergy sex abuse audit finds decline but 'major' limitations
Washington Blade: Mississippi legislature approves ‘turn away the gays’ bill
Buzzfeed: Uganda Celebrates Anti-Gay Law With Five-Hour Ceremony
The Sunday Mail: Zimbabwe evangelist says gays, lesbians "mentally sick"
New Zimbabwe: Gays blast Makandiwa for "mentally sick" comments
Second, Al Jazeera America Presents recently aired a special on financial malfeasance in the Catholic Church. Holy Money explores the Catholic Church's financial controversies, including money laundering, embezzlement, poor oversight, the financial dimensions of the clergy abuse crisis, and Pope Francis' efforts to bring about financial reform.
Both are must-see films for anyone who wants to understand the Catholic Church's clergy abuse scandals.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Aljazeera America: Christianity, Contraception and Class
The Nation: Corporate Religious Freedom Means Freedom to Discriminate
Slaktivist: The white evangelical army of hate is hurting people and redefining ‘Christianity’
Huffington Post: It's Time to Stop Calling Fundamentalists 'Christians'
Think Progress: How The World Vision Flip-Flop Demonstrates Conservatives’ Commitment To Anti-Gay Discrimination
Political Research Associates: Phelps May Be Dead, But Fundamentalism Lives On
Religion News Service: ‘Frozen,’ evangelical purity culture, and what it’s like being a girl
Rhymes With Religion: Marginalizing the abused: Six ways survivors are treated as insignificant
The Advocate: Gay and Faithful Aren't Mutually Exclusive
Pink News: 10 imminent catastrophes to prepare for once gays are allowed to marry
Reuters: U.S. top court declines to hear new contraception cases
Huffington Post: Jim Bob Duggar Drops Support For Candidate Who Represented Risque Lingerie Shop
Honolulu Civil Beat: New Hawaii Catholic Schools Contract: Gay Teachers Can Be Fired
QNotes: Anti-gay Charlotte Catholic High lecturer sparks controversy