February 11, 2004 – East Bay Express
Outing the Bible: The new queer theologians don’t need your approval
by Malcolm Gay, firstname.lastname@example.org
One thing is clear: 2003 was without a doubt the Year of the Queer. In a mere twelve months, the United States Supreme Court cast aside anti-sodomy laws in Texas, theMassachusetts Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage, and Democratic presidential candidates from Dean to Kerry endorsed the idea of civil unions. On the pop culture front, a fashion-forward quintet captivated the country, metrosexualizing hopeless breeders on Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Britney Spears briefly reanimated her career when she tongued that queen of reinvention, Madonna. Even our paragon of hetero hottieness J. Lo veered toward the Sapphic in Gigli. Bride magazine offered up its first story on same-sex weddings. Family-friendly Wal-Mart expanded its antidiscrimination policies to protect homosexuals. Even army generals came out of the closet.
But the gay parade didn’t stop there. The year’s crowning moment came on November 2, when the Episcopal Church ordained Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop. Of course, Robinson’s ordination has come at quite a price. Both at home and abroad, there are calls for Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold to step down. The conservative American Anglican Council is hoping to capitalize on the controversy, and is vying to replace the Episcopal Church of the United States as North America’s main representative body within the Anglican Communion. Several African provinces have denounced Robinson’s ordination, and the Anglican Church in Uganda formally severed its relationship with the US Episcopal Church, writing, “You officially … installed as candidate for bishop someone the Bible clearly shows to be in an unsuitable lifestyle.”
October 18, 2007 – PinkNewsNews
Homophobia turns young people off Christianity
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Research into the declining respect for Christianity among young people has identitfied religious hostility to LGBT people as a major factor.
An investigation by The Barna Group, an evangelical market research company, into the attitudes of Americans aged 16 to 29, makes grim reading for religious leaders. 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers said “anti-homosexual” describes Christianity.
Further research found that both groups said that Christians “show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians.”
5 April 2010 – Fridae
It’s the gays’ fault
by News Editor
As homosexual clergy get blamed for the decades-long sex abuse crisis facing the Catholic Church (not unlike gay men being frequently accused of child molestation), gay and Catholic political commentator Andrew Sullivan explains why the blame is thoroughly misplaced.
With the Catholic Church and its spiritual leader Pope Benedict XVI in the headlines amidst a growing global clerical sex abuse scandal, Bill Donohue, president of the US Catholic League, took out a full page ad in The New York Times and on CNN blamed homosexual clergy for the sexual abuse of children.
Titled “Going for the Vatican Jugular,” the advertisement last Tuesday read in part: “The (New York) Times continues to editorialize about the ‘pedophilia crisis,’ when all along it’s been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.”
Prominent gay and Catholic political commentator Andrew Sullivan hit back on his The Daily Dish blog, which is regularly named one of the most influential in America, and explained why blaming the child sex abuse crisis on homosexuals is so wrong:
May 30, 2010 – The New York Times
Prospective Catholic Priests Face Sexuality Hurdles
by Paul Vitello
Every job interview has its awkward moments, but in recent years, the standard interview for men seeking a life in the Roman Catholic priesthood has made the awkward moment a requirement. “When was the last time you had sex?” all candidates for the seminary are asked. (The preferred answer: not for three years or more.) “What kind of sexual experiences have you had?” is another common question. “Do you like pornography?” Depending on the replies, and the results of standardized psychological tests, the interview may proceed into deeper waters: “Do you like children?” and “Do you like children more than you like people your own age?”
It is part of a soul-baring obstacle course prospective seminarians are forced to run in the aftermath of a sexual abuse crisis that church leaders have decided to confront, in part, by scrubbing their academies of potential molesters, according to church officials and psychologists who screen candidates in New York and the rest of the country. But many of the questions are also aimed at another, equally sensitive mission: deciding whether gay applicants should be denied admission under complex recent guidelines from the Vatican that do not explicitly bar all gay candidates but would exclude most of them, even some who are celibate.
Scientific studies have found no link between sexual orientation and abuse, and the church is careful to describe its two initiatives as more or less separate. One top adviser to American seminaries characterized them as “two circles that might overlap here and there.” Still, since the abuse crisis erupted in 2002, curtailing the entry of gay men into the priesthood has become one the church’s highest priorities. And that task has fallen to seminary directors and a cadre of psychologists who say that culling candidates has become an arduous process of testing, interviewing and making decisions — based on social science, church dogma and gut instinct.
“The best way I can put it, it’s not black and white,” said the adviser, the Rev. David Toups, the director of the secretariat of clergy, consecrated life and vocations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “It’s more like one of those things where it’s hard to define, but ‘I know it when I see it.’ ” Many church officials have been reluctant to discuss the screening process, and its details differ from diocese to diocese. In the densely populated Diocese of Brooklyn, officials are confident of their results in one respect. “We have no gay men in our seminary at this time,” said Dr. Robert Palumbo, a psychologist who has screened seminary candidates at the diocese’s Cathedral Seminary Residence in Douglaston, Queens, for 10 years. “I’m pretty sure of it.” Whether that reflects rigorous vetting or the reluctance of gay men to apply, he could not say. “I’m just reporting what is,” he said.
Concern over gay men in the priesthood has simmered in the church for centuries, and has been heightened in recent years by claims from some Catholic scholars that 25 percent to 50 percent of priests in the United States are gay. The church has never conducted its own survey, but other experts have estimated the number to be far smaller. The sexual abuse scandal has prompted some conservative bishops to lay blame for the crisis on a “homosexual subculture” in the priesthood. While no one has proposed expelling gay priests, the crisis has pitted those traditionalists against other Catholics who attribute the problem to priests, gay and straight, with dysfunctional personalities.
In 2005, the Vatican sidestepped that ideological debate, but seemed to appease conservatives by issuing guidelines that would strictly limit the admission of gay men to Catholic seminaries. The guidelines, which bolstered existing rules that had been widely unenforced, defined homosexuality in both clear-cut and ambiguous ways: Men who actively “practice homosexuality” should be barred. But seminary rectors were left to discern the meaning of less obvious instructions to reject candidates who “show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.” Though some Catholics saw room in that language for admitting celibate gay men, the Vatican followed up in 2008 with a clarification. “It is not enough to be sure that he is capable of abstaining from genital activity,” ruled the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, which issued the initial guidelines. “It is also necessary to evaluate his sexual orientation.”
Some seminary directors were baffled by the word “orientation,” said Thomas G. Plante, a psychologist and the director of the Spirituality and Health Institute at Santa Clara University, who screens seminary candidates for several dioceses in California and nationwide. Could a psychologically mature gay person, committed to celibacy, never become a priest? Dr. Plante said several admissions officers asked. Could the church afford to turn away good candidates in the midst of a critical priest shortage? The Vatican permits every bishop and leader of a religious order to make those decisions, which vary from stricter to more liberal interpretations of the rules. But the methods of reaching them have become increasingly standard, experts say.
Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, a psychologist at Catholic University who has screened seminarians and once headed a treatment center for abusive priests, said the screening could be “very intrusive.” But he added, “We are looking for two basic qualities: the absence of pathology and the presence of health.” To that end, most candidates are likely to be asked not only about past sexual activities but also about masturbation fantasies, consumption of alcohol, relationships with parents and the causes of romantic breakups. All must take H.I.V. tests and complete written exams like the 567-question Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which screens for, among other things, depression, paranoia and gender confusion. In another test, candidates must submit sketches of anatomically correct human figures.
March 21, 2011 – African Activist
Challenging the Religious Fundamentalism Behind MP David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009
As Uganda’s Parliament reconvenes on Tuesday and legislators begin consideration of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, Gaaki Kigambo wrote an insightful editorial in The Observer about lead sponsor MP David Bahati’s participation in the BBC Debate: Is Homosexuality Un-African? Kigambo does a good job of challenging a core belief behind the bill, that homosexuality goes against Uganda’s ethos as a Christian nation.
Bahati also holds that homosexuality, and especially in Uganda, goes against our ethos as a Christian nation and, on that basis, is sin. Article 7 of the constitution, however, states that Uganda shall not adopt a state religion. Uganda’s claim then as a Christian nation – as Michael Kyazze, the pastor of Omega Healing Centre noted – is only derivative from the fact that a huge percentage of people have been raised and socialised as Christians, which has, consequently, informed the nation’s moral basis. Yet, how much of that moral basis exists to challenge homosexuality is debatable in a country where corruption, for instance, as the Inspectorate of Government 2008 integrity survey indicated, is an accepted way of life.
Ugandans, the survey noted, “seemed to glorify those who acquire wealth through graft, while they ridiculed those who upheld principles of integrity and moral values”. Kigambo exposed the lack of evidence MP Bahati brought to the debate for his assertions that homosexuality hurts population growth and is a danger to children. Baited by host Zeinab Badawi, Bahati emphatically stated, as his second main thrust against gay people, that the existence of homosexuals in Africa certainly compromises population growth even if he could not supply statistics to back such an assertion…
Bahati also premises his bill on the need to curtail the promotion of homosexuality, which he says is endangering the lives of young children. According to him, “we have a number of children in Uganda who have been traumatised by the fact that they have been adopted by gay couples and they have been forced to call a man ‘mum’ or a woman, ‘dad’”. He, however, could not offer concrete evidence to back this up, just as he would not when challenged to back up his sweeping statement that gay people were investing money to indoctrinate children into homosexuality. “We have evidence and we are not obliged to present it to this audience,” Bahati claimed.
Much of MP Bahati’s rhetoric during the debate about procreation and the risk homosexuality poses to children mirrors the rhetoric of religious fundamentalism in the United States–spin conceived in ideological hate. Kigambo highlighted this connection very well. A Lutheran pastor, Pieter Oberholzer, then cut in. “I’m hearing you speak from one side only – the religious Christian fundamentalism – and, I’m sorry to say, the words you are using are identical to [the ones of] the three American pastors who went to your country to talk to you and your President and many leaders with their agenda, saying [homosexuals] were trying to recruit the whole world. I haven’t heard you say anything new. So, you want to be African, voicing right wing American religious fundamentalists,” Oberholzer said.
While Bahati admitted that most of what he had said was not new, he defended this apparent lack of originality, saying it was “because the problem hasn’t been solved”. However, he said the piece of legislation he is proposing is a Ugandan legislation, proposed by Ugandans. It is a strange coincidence, however, that the bill was drafted shortly after Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer spoke at a conference in Kampala organised by the NGO, Family Life Network. All three not only hold strong views against homosexuality, but are involved in efforts to discourage it.
Kigambo ends the editorial with a concern: “To Bahati’s advantage, though, such scrutiny will be absent both in Parliament and the general public over the next six weeks when the bill is up for debate.” Hopefully this is not the case and that the public hearing phase of committee meetings will provide a forum for those concerned about human rights and separation of church and state.
24 March 2011 – PinkNews
Survey: Most US Catholics support gay rights
by Jessica Geen
A study of US Catholics says they are more supportive of gay rights than the general public and other Christians. The Public Religion Research Institute study found that almost half (43 per cent) of Catholics support gay marriage and 56 per cent say gay relationships are not sinful. This compares to 37 per cent of the general public who support gay marriage and 46 per cent who say gay relationships are not sinful. When Catholics were asked if they agreed with ‘civil marriage’ for gay couples, support levels rose to 71 per cent.
Seven in ten said that religious messages contribute a lot (33 per cent) or a little (37 per cent) to suicides among LGBT young people. Seventy-three per cent said they supported protection against employment discrimination, 63 per cent said gays and lesbians should be able to serve in the military and 60 per cent said they should be allowed to adopt children. The general public were less likely to support each of these rights issues. Only 23 per cent of Catholics said sexual orientation could be changed and they were significantly more likely to give their church poor marks for its handling of gay issues compared to other faiths.
Robert P Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, said: “It may come as a surprise to many that rank and file Catholics are more supportive of rights for gays and lesbians than other Christians and the public. “But the best data available paints this consistent portrait across a range of issues, including same-sex marriage, workplace non-discrimination, open military service, and adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples.”
The research was compiled from surveys in 2010. It compared the views of the general population, Catholics and other Christian denominations. This week, a Vatican official told theUN Human Rights Council in Geneva that Catholics were being “vilified” for their views against homosexuality.
“People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behavior between people of the same sex,” said Archbishop Silvano M Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative to the council. He added: “When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature, which may also be expressions of religious convictions, or state opinions about scientific claims, they are stigmatised, and worse — they are vilified, and prosecuted.”
April 6, 2011 – Star Gazette
Gay bishop: Bible silent on gays – Mere tolerance not sufficient, Episcopal leader says
Bishop Gene Robinson has a favorite bumper sticker: Guns don’t kill people, religions do. “That would be funny if it weren’t true,” he said. “I would argue that 95 percent of all the pain and prejudice we as LGBT people have experienced can be laid at the feet of religious people.” About 300 people gathered inside Sage Chapel on the Cornell University campus Wednesday to hear Robinson speak. He delivered the 2011 Frederick C. Wood Lecture sponsored by Cornell United Religious Work.
Robinson, of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, is the first openly gay, non-celibate Episcopal priest to be ordained a bishop. He has worked at the local, state, national and international levels to advocate for equal protection under the law and full civil marriage rights for all. “For well over 30 years, a great human debate has raged with regard to the role of LGBT persons in the church,” said Ken Clarke, director of Cornell United Religious Work, in his introduction. “Bishop Robinson is one of the most important voices and symbols of that multifaceted debate.”
In his lecture, “How Religion is Killing Our Most Vulnerable Youth,” Robinson drew laughs, applause and cheers. He discussed how society has arrived at this debate, said it is unknown what God thinks about homosexuality, and said it is not enough to simply be tolerant of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Just 20 or 30 years ago, most Americans did not know anyone who was openly gay, Robinson said. Now, almost everyone knows someone, he said. And as a result, there are people all over the place going home and telling their parents they are gay.
“Families are thrown into chaos,” he said. “The world has changed because so many people have come out and all of us have to deal with it, including the church.” But what seems to be so clear in the Bible, he said, is really not clear at all. It is vital to look at the context of the Bible. Same-sex behavior existed in ancient times, but homosexuality did not, Robinson said. The word “homosexual” is used in the Bible because of translations that were made, but homosexual orientation is a notion that is just 140 years old, and scripture is silent about homosexuality, he said.
“The Bible isn’t talking about homosexuals,” he said. “It seems to be real clear what God thinks about homosexuality, when in fact it is completely unknown.” Scripture has been used to defend slavery and the mistreatment of women, he said. Now scripture is wrongly being used to speak out against homosexuality, he said, but society has a chance to correct this misconception. Instead of simply being tolerant of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Robinson said, the majority must actively support this group of people and fight for their rights.
“When we get white people beginning to understand they are paying a price for racism, or men realizing they are paying a price for sexism, or straight people realizing they are paying a price for the exclusion of LGBT people, then we will get somewhere,” he said. Cornell freshman Ben Chartock said he was inspired by Robinson’s words. The positive message Robinson left the audience was powerful, he said. “I was struck by the continued push toward betterment for all humans and that was really the direction the bishop said humans are going in,” he said. “For me, that is a really great sign.”
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