CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, file
Jack Jenkins | Think Progress | August 22, 2015
Pope Francis has become wildly popular in the United States for striking an unusually inclusive tone as pontiff, winning praise — and possibly converts — for encouraging his fellow Catholics to be less judgmental towards the poor, immigrants, and even LGBT people. But when the pope travels to Philadelphia next month to attend the World Meeting of Families, he’ll be rubbing elbows with people known for advocating a very different kind of conversion: Ex-gay therapy.
Ex-gay therapy, or attempts to change an LGBT person’s sexual orientation, has been widely discredited for being ineffective at best and destructive at worst. Some former advocates of the practice have publicly recanted and apologized for promoting it, the American Psychological Association has condemned its use, and it is legally banned in California, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, D.C.
Yet so-called “reparative therapy” has long enjoyed pockets of support with conservative Christian circles, and some of its backers will be present at the World Meeting of Families next month. According to the National Catholic Reporter, an organization known as Courage ministries is listed as an exhibitor at the conference, which is held every three years — this year in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The group officially rejects the label of ex-gay ministry, claiming instead that its employees promote a lifetime of celibacy for homosexual Catholics, saying the organization “prefers to think of itself as a ‘Pro-Chastity’ ministry.”
David | Cooks and Liars | August 18, 2015
Pastor Ben Bailey of the Central church of Christ in McMinnville, Tennessee blamed “liberal society” for banning they stoning of LGBT people, whom he said were deserving of punishment.
In a Sunday broadcast for The Gospel of Christ television program, Bailey observed that some couples were choosing to go to churches with “relaxed and liberal views.”
He said that they wanted “things like women preaching, women leading in service, where homosexuals and gay marriage were accepted openly.”
How Pope Francis’ Message of Encounter Might Cause a “Miracle” This September.
Listening like Pope Francis
Many individuals and groups have called for Pope Francis to listen to LGBT people during his September visit to the United States. Others are skeptical that there will be truly positive engagement from the pontiff on this crucial pastoral issue.
However, real change can happen if U.S. Catholics model Pope Francis’ commitment to encounter and to conversation, a “miracle” of sorts when it happens.
Recently, Ross Murray of GLAAD questioned the pope’s impact in the United States given how troubled the local church remains. In a recent essay for The Advocate, Murray cited the many firings of LGBT and ally church workers as one example of church troubls. Murray admitted to seeing the “profound impact the pope has on people around the globe,” but asked:
Paras Griffin via Getty Images
Adam Phillips | Huffington Post | August 5, 2015
On Tuesday, Bishop TD Jakes sat down on HuffPost Live with host and Morehouse College Professor Marc Lamont Hill to talk about his new book Destiny. Step Into Your Purpose.
A viewer online sent in the following question: Do you think the LGBT community and the black church can co-exist?
Bishop Jakes replied: “Absolutely… I think it is going to be diverse from church to church. Every church has a different opinion on the issue and every gay person is different…. to think [each] are all the same is totally not true.”
Marc Lamont Hill pushed Bishop Jakes a bit further, asking “Has your thinking evolved on this?”
Religious freedom should mean equal rights for all
Bend the Arc | July Newsletter 2015
Less than a month after the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage across the United States, conservative forces in Washington brazenly attempted to forestall this progress. Republicans House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform introduced the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that seeks to mitigate the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage and allows for far broader discrimination against the LGBT community, along with single mothers and unmarried couples, all under the purport of “religious freedom.”
What makes the First Amendment Defense Act so galling? Described by one expert as Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act (RFRA) “on steroids,” the First Amendment Defense Act would allow individuals, government employees, government-funded contractors and grantees, and for-profit corporations to discriminate on a broad and truly incomprehensible level. Under the act, a single mother could be denied a bed in a homeless shelter because she is unmarried, even if that homeless shelter is taxpayer-funded. A husband could be denied visitation rights to his dying spouse, on the basis that his spouse is a man. A couple could be denied an apartment in a commercial building because they are unmarried.
Upon hearing that the bill might be brought to a vote in Congress, Bend the Arc mobilized with our interfaith partner organizations to prevent the bill from moving forward. In partnership with Auburn Seminary, over 3000 clergy and faith leaders signed a letter in opposition of the First Amendment Defense Act, morally decrying that the bill cynically twists the meaning of religious freedom. As the faith leaders noted in their letter: “the religious liberty on which our nation was founded guarantees us the freedom to hold any belief we choose and the right to act on our religious beliefs — but it does not allow us to harm or discriminate against others or to infringe on the religious beliefs of others.“
In the face of such strong opposition, the First Amendment Defense Act did not move forward. At least not yet. According to Bend the Arc’s allies on Capitol Hill, the bill stalled due to the strong showing of Bend the Arc and our colleagues.