Wow, what disturbing news I woke to Sunday morning. We’ve been there in the past, and we’ve been to the Plaza Live where Christina Grimmie was killed, as the Orlando Gay Men’s Chorus performs there. So far, we’re not aware of any friends or acquaintances who were involved, but it is a tight enough community, I’m sure we at least have friends of friends who are.
This will all be kind of a random collection of my thoughts on this, so be understanding if I’m more incoherent than usual.
First, let’s clear up something about the role the shooter’s religion played, and whether this was an Isl?mic terrorist act, or as one “friend” on Facebook called it, Jihad. According to FBI Director, James Comey, the shooter came to their attention a few years ago when some folks at the Court House where he was working security, contacted the FBI after he made claims about being part of Al-Qaeda. They determined he was just making the claims in anger, and as something a threat. Kind of like kids who claim to be in a gang, when they aren’t.
Of course, we all know now about his call to 911 claiming loyalty to the leader of ISIL, and mentioning the Boston Bombers. The Boston Bombers claimed to affiliated with Al-Qaeda. So, why does this matter? Well ISIL and Al-Qaeda are mortal enemies. He basically pledged allegiance to two diametrically opposed groups, Shi’a Hezbollah and Sunni ISIS. I think this shows the guy was either stupid, or too consumed by his rage to consider what he was saying, he just wanted to seem like a big guy on a big mission. I believe this takes all wind out of the sales of those trying to make this some sort of international terrorist event. It was not.Continue reading »
Scott Lively is an attorney who heads up something called the “Abiding Truth Ministries.” He’s risen to some prominence lately by taking his message of hate and bigotry towards LGBT people international. He found an especially receptive audience in Ugandan government officials, and helped pass anti-gay legislation which called for the death penalty for homosexual acts. Of course, he later claimed to be against such a bill, and claimed he had nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, some folks in Uganda saw it differently, and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a federal lawsuit against Lively on behalf of a gay rights group, Sexual Minorities Uganda, under the Alien Tort Statute. The suit accused Lively of violating international law by conspiring to persecute the Ugandan LGBT community, portraying their movement as “pedophilic” and “genocidal”, and linking it “to the Nazis and Rwandan murderers”.
You’ll notice that throughout his career as a hate grifter, Lively’s held Nazis in a special place in his rhetoric, even writing a book called the Pink Swastika, which claims that the Nazis were created by a bunch of hyper-masculine gays. (Yeah, he believes Hitler was hyper-masculine.) I offer this from a recent article on his website as evidence of his animus and hatred, and desire to protect his own ability to discriminate:
Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) (also known as sexual orientation anti-discrimination policies) are the most devious tactic of the LGBT movement for stripping Christians of First Amendment protections and setting the stage for the “gay” takeover of any social, political or cultural entity. These SORs are the seed that contains the entire tree of the homosexual agenda with all of its poisonous fruit.
The references to Nazism are never very far away, and he can’t seem to ever discuss anything related to homosexuality without bringing it up. It’s most recently come up in an article on World Net Daily:
“The ‘Equality Act’ should be called the ‘Gaystapo Empowerment Act,’ because if passed it will give homosexual activists and their allies the legal power to attack and punish Christians and other pro-family advocates in virtually every sphere of American life. The trampling of Christian bakers, florists, bed and breakfast hotel owners etc. that we’ve seen this far will instantly transform from a few disturbing anomalies to the ‘new normal’ for nearly everyone who wants to live according to God’s law and values. Now, facing the potential passage of the Equality Act, I wonder if I or my organization, Abiding Truth Ministries, will be among the first targets of its overreach. For the first time in my pro-family missionary career, I’m genuinely concerned ATM’s ability speak freely in America may soon be curtailed – under threat of legal penalties, perhaps even criminal charges. The ‘gays’ are moving with lightning speed to consolidate their power, and their motives are not benign. On my five-stage scale of the LGBT takeover of a society (tolerance, acceptance, celebration, forced participation and punishment of dissenters), Obergefell represents the establishment of Stage 4 as constitutional law. The Equality Act will usher in Stage 5 on a grand scale.”
He is ever so worried that so-called “Christian” business owners will have to treat LGBT people equally, but make not mistake, Lively and others are using these claims as the Trojan Horses to allow a return to Jim Crowe laws. If anyone thinks that the “right to refuse service based on religious beliefs” will stop with LGBT people, think again. It will be just a matter of time before Hispanics and African-Americans are being refused service. Some business owners in South Carolina have already announced it.
It worries and embarrasses me the idiocy I see in too many of our elected officials, and making it worse is the knowledge we elect them, and keep re-electing them. Evangelicals and Conservatives, especially Republican conservatives seem to try to out-stupid each other, and the rhetoric has simply crossed a line, especially on the gay marriage issue. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa[they should be really proud]) provides a ton of grist for the stupid mill, and I think his latest, were he anyone else, would qualify him for a Baker Act petition.
According to King:
“I had a strong, Christian lawyer tell me yesterday that, under this decision that he has read, what it brings about is: It only requires one human being in this relationship—that you could marry your lawnmower with this decision. I think he’s right.”Continue reading »
We’re starting to see the backlash against LGBTQ people as the likelihood of nationwide marriage equality increases, and LGBTQ people achiever equality under the law. One of the main ways the Christianists are trying to keep us in our place, is to pass these bogus, and clearly unconstitutional, religious liberty bills. We saw how cowardly they are in Oklahoma this week.
Earlier this year, Oklahoma Republican state Rep. Chuck Strohm (pictured) introduced his ‘Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act’ (HB1371). If passed, this would allow businesses to deny services to customers if they felt that such services were ‘against the person’s religious beliefs’. (Make no mistake, these have been introduced, and some passed already in a number of states, including North Carolina.)
Unfortunately for the bigots in the Oklahoma legislature, they were outsmarted by a fair-minded Democratic Representative, Emily Virgin. Virgin introduced an amendment to the bill. Basically, the amendment stated that if you were planning on refusing to serve LGBT people on religious grounds, then you must display a public notice and own your bigotry.
“Any person not wanting to participate in any of the activities set forth in subsection A of this section based on sexual orientation, gender identity or race of either party to the marriage shall post notice of such refusal in a manner clearly visible to the public in all places of business, including websites,” said the amendment. “The notice may refer to the person’s religious beliefs, but shall state specifically which couples the business does not serve by referring to a refusal based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or race.”
Most thinking and fair-minded people would never want us to return to the days of “No Coloreds” signs, but that is precisely where the conservatives want to take us, only without the signs. Virgin explained that she was adamantly opposed to the bill, but thought this a reasonable accommodation to help lessen the embarrassment that could be caused to people if they went into a business where the owners intended to refuse service. Makes sense to me.
Well, once that amendment got on the bill, that was the end of that. It seems the Christianists are all fine with being bigots, so long as they don’t have to do it publicly. They are learning there is a price these days for bigotry in most places. They’d rather it stay quiet between themselves and the gay couple they just embarrassed and inconvenienced. They know if they have to advertise, on their website they are bigots, there will also be some straight people who stay away. This is just like the battles to try to keep secret those who sign anti-gay ballots initiative petitions, and give to anti-gay causes. They are righteous enough to sign, and write checks, but not righteous enough to own the consequences of their bigotry.
Same-sex marriage has arrived in Florida a midst great wailing and gnashing of teeth. While arriving sooner than expected, it wasn’t an easy delivery thanks to the political aspirations of our twice married and living in sin Attorney General, Pam Bondi. However, some Court Clerks are doing all they can to prove that, despite having to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, they still hate gay people as much as ever.
They’re doing this in several counties by deciding to no longer provide solemnization ceremonies in the Clerk’s office. This is a non-mandated service that’s been traditionally provided, but since, if they provide it to straight people, they’d have to provide it to same-sex couples, they have elected to discontinue the service. One of the counties making that choice is the county just north of Tampa, Pasco County, and their Clerk, Paula O’Neil offered the money quote, “”The problem is we can’t discriminate…”1
As I am wont to do, I’ve prepared a letter to fax to Ms. O’Neil, and since she’s a public official, we’ll consider it an open letter.
Paula S. O’Neil, Clerk & Comptroller
38053 Live Oak Avenue
Dade City, FL 33523-3894
Dear Ms O’Neil:
It was with a great deal of interest that I read your statements from a Tampa Bay Times article of January 2, 2015.
Let me ask you a question. Were I visiting Pasco County, and violated some law or regulation, would I avoid prosecution and accountability if I claimed that violating the law was based on a “consciously held religious belief,” or if it simply made me “uncomfortable?” Or, is that particular “get out of jail free card” explicitly for people who happen to think that LGBT people are icky, and/or are court officials in your office?
If one of your Clerks had ever come to you (or did) saying they were “uncomfortable” conducting services for people who had been divorced, or multi-racial couples, would you have given them a pass from performing their duties.
You see Ms O’Neil, we both know this is not based on some biblical understanding of marriage. Trust me, I can refute every single verse your Clerks might offer for justifying their hate for LGBT people. Some knowledge of Greek and the context of the times goes a long way to an intelligent understanding of the Bible.
However, we know that this bigotry really isn’t about the biblical view of marriage. Otherwise your oh so evangelical Clerks would also be refusing to marry divorced people. While Jesus never had anything at all to say about homosexuality, he spoke explicitly about divorce, and he was, as we southerner’s like to say, “agin it.” Since I don’t see your Clerks asking for accommodations relative to marrying divorcees, then we can be certain this is not about a biblical interpretation of marriage rights.
Now I understand that Florida law doesn’t require you to provide solemnization ceremonies, and as with any government agency you are free to start or stop providing un-mandated services any time, but the blatant display of bigotry on the part of you and your staff is, even by Florida standards, breathtaking.
Your actions remind of some local governments in the south during the civil rights era, when courts determined that African-American children had the same right to use the municipal pool as white children, some cities just filled in the pool, rather than accept equal rights. This is what you are doing, and this is how history will judge you.
The religious freedoms of you and your clerks are not being violated by performing same-sex marriages, just as they are not violated when performing marriages for divorcees or multi-racial couples. They still have the right to hate gay people. They have the right to go to any church this Sunday morning, and pray to any god they choose, and say whatever prayer they want. Please don’t justify what you are doing using Christianity of religion, just admit you and your clerks are bigots, and move on. The truth shall set you free Ms. O’Neil.
But you Ma’am ought to be ashamed of yourself. You statement, “The problem is we can’t discriminate,” is beyond hateful. It is disgusting coming from an elected official who swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. I’m sorry to hear that you and your religious beliefs have a problem with no longer being able to discriminate. It must be a horrible life you lead now that you no longer get to.
As if Florida were not already a joke, you just decide to pile on to the rampant stupidity that permeates Florida government.
UPDATED: January 9, 2015 — I was surprised to receive a telephone call from Ms. O’Neil Monday after, and had a long discussion about the topic. I believe she was honest and genuine in her concern, and I appreciate the effort she made. Click here to read more details about the conversation.
Perhaps nothing is more troubling to me at this time in my life than the insertion of religion into politics. Mega-Church pastors become political pundits, and it never comes to a good end. Thomas Jefferson himself wrote in 1813, “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.” Robert Jeffres, appearing on Fox News, suddenly decides he’s a border security expert, and that whole thing about “suffer the children to come unto me,” well, that’s just for white protestant children.
We have an influx of children making their way to the U.S. from a number of embattled Central American countries. These are countries with grinding poverty and raging drug wars in which it is nearly impossible for children to hide from. In most of these cases, the parents are sending these children, knowing the dangers of the journey, but believing that what lies on the other side is better enough to be worth the risk.
It is stunning how today’s “godly folk” use the Christian moniker yet act in a ways diametrically the opposite of the principles announced by Christ and the behavior he exhibited if one believes the Gospel narratives. Christ’s focus was the poor and down trodden and he socialized with the outcasts of the society of his day. The main targets of Christ’s condemnation? The Pharisees who we see reincarnated in today’s conservative Christians who are best known for their hypocrisy and utter hatred towards anyone who doesn’t think, look and love like they do. Continue reading »
I’ve meant to comment about the Coca Cola Super Bowl Ad for a while. I’ve never seen such a disgusting exhibition of hate and bigotry as erupted on social media from some Uhmerikans after this beautiful ad aired. Americans (especially conservative Americans) have proven they don’t know a damn thing about American history or what it is to be an American.
This ad had nothing (let me repeat that NOTHING) to do with politics, immigration, or official languages. Glenn Beck tried to say it was a statement to “divide” people. He tried to perpetuate this idea that this was an “in your face” statement where, as Beck said, “…if you’re offended by it, you’re a racist. If you do like it, you’re for immigration. You’re for progress. That’s all this is: to divide people.” (We can’t be for progress for God’s sake.)Continue reading »
Last year, I was forced to file a complaint with the Bishop [Masters v Toms-Complaint to Bishop (redacted)] about hateful and dishonest actions by Bruce Toms, the newly appointed Pastor at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church. At the time, I was told by several Methodist Ministers to not have high expectations; that the Bishop’s first reaction would be to protect the institution; and his second would be to protect the elder. That came true, with a letter from the Bishop making some intellectual contortions that defy belief.
In the end, the Bishop concedes the statement of welcome adopted by the Church in 2011 was not a violation of the Discipline; that a Pastor cannot unilaterally undo the “legal” actions of a Church Council; but still, somehow, managed to find an excuse to side with Toms. Below, is my response to the intellectual gymnastics.
Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Florida Episcopal Area, United Methodist Church
Dear Bishop Carter:
I know you are aware that I am not at all satisfied with the response you have provided. It’s less about your findings, and more about the logic on which you seem to have based the determination. Much of the reasoning stated in your letter would call into question the integrity of the recollections of me and the other lay members involved in the 2011 process, and that’s just not acceptable to me. I know these people to be of the highest moral character, and I know Bill Josey’s recollection of many events to be substantially different than that of everyone else involved. So that’s just not going to go unanswered.
Therefore, I intend to respond to your letter of findings in some detail. You can disregard it if you wish, obviously, but it is important to me and the others involved to respond.
“The question of justice and grace in relation to gay and lesbian Christians is a matter of great importance. It can be approached missionally, pastorally, judicially and legally. Our Book of Discipline affirms the sacred worth of every person (161f) and our commitment to be in ministry “for and with all persons (161f). These affirmations are placed in the context of the Social Principles, which, “while not to be considered church law”, are nevertheless “a call to faithfulness and are intended to be instructive and persuasive in the best of the prophetic spirit” (Preface).”
We all know that 161f is part of the Social Principles and therefore not church law. However, Bruce Toms used it in his now “classified” and secret PowerPoint presentation to make his point that the former (as you call it) statement was in violation of the Discipline. So, since he did nothing wrong, the other sections of 161f would carry the same weight he seemed to give, would they not? In other words, use of the Social Principles was a door opened, not by me, but by Toms.Continue reading »
I’ve been thinking back over the time I got spend recently at the quadrennial General Conference of the United Methodist Church held here in Tampa this year. It was a big event, and it was a mess from a church polity standpoint. Like Congress, little of great substance was accomplished, and few longstanding issues were resolved, but that may be a good thing.
I’d like to take some time to reflect on some of my experiences as a volunteer there, and as someone who wound up being involved in a demonstration that resulted in one of the morning plenary sessions being cancelled.
Among some other things I did, I especially liked handing out the daily newspaper, and was approached two of those days by female ministers (interestingly enough) who wanted to know how I got involved with RMN, and then tried to “straighten me out.” They had apparently been to some program where they had some musician give testimony about coming out of “the lifestyle.” I also think they had been provided a script because they both started the conversation with the same question, “How did you get involved with that group?”
I explained to one of the ministers that I understood someone could decide to get married and not have sex with a member of the same-sex, but that did not mean that person had changed. She said, “Well, he has nine children now, so I think that says something.” I responded with, “Well, you know, that’s just a skill, and we gay people are very talented. We can pick up skills quickly.” That’s when she decided she’d talked to me long enough.
The other female minister rocked my world with an unexpected response. My primary response to people who talk about it being a choice is to explain to them that there have to be at least two options for it to be a “choice.” So that means, if they believe I could wake up tomorrow morning and decide to find women attractive, they could wake up the next morning, and decide to find people of the same sex attractive to them. That would constitute a choice. Well, believe it or not, this Minister responded that, yes she could, she could even remember the exact summer and the girl with whom she could have made that decision, but she resisted. I decided to let that one slide, because all I could muster at that moment was a feeling of sadness for her, for having made the choice to deny who she was for her entire life.
I just as well get in my 2 cents worth, as everyone else, friend and foe, has expressed an opinion about the protest. The difficulty is, they all are, to some degree, correct. Some thought it wrong and disruptive and possibly turned off some people. On the other hand, sometimes you have to call something out for what it is. I don’t think I would have crossed the bar, had it not been for the African Delegate comparing my life to that of an animal. Sadly, I think the net effect of the protest action could be zero, but I just really don’t know.
It appears that folks at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Maggie Gallagher’s personal hate group, is collecting stories of town/county clerks from around New York State who feel put-upon for having to follow the state’s law that all couples are equal under the State’s Marriage laws. As they collect their videos of the horrible (horrible I say) persecution caused these people by being expected to do their civil duties under state law as Agents of The State, we’ll look at them under the light of a Constitutional Republic which is ruled by law, not religion.
We’ll start with Rose Marie Belforti. According to Rose, “this may be the first time in her life she’s had to receive persecution.”
Let’s start with the her statement of “may be.” Apparently she’s not sure, but she certainly wants to make it sound that way, and then there’s the thing about “receiving” persecution. I didn’t know it was sent along in a package via UPS, but, maybe that’s the way the new form of the marriage licenses got to her.
Rose used to have an idyllic life after moving to the rural Ledyard, NY where she builds barns and is the part time town clerk. It’s a town of 2,000 where the record number of marriage license in any given year was seven. Rose assures us that she really does love helping people, and she goes out of her way to make sure everybody gets what they need…but gay people, not so much. They are not welcome in the Clerk’s Office in Ledyard.
Also, despite her strong Christian morals, that whole “thou shalt not bare false witness” thing is apparently just a quaint old saying that doesn’t mean much, because Rose’s video here has some whoppers in it.
Let’s start with the part about how the Legislature just “so quickly…no debate,” suddenly gave gay and lesbian people equal treatment under the law. Sorry Rose, this bill had come to the legislature of New York State several times in previous sessions, and it certainly didn’t pass quickly this time, and there sure as hell was lots of debate and protest marches, and plenty of anti-gay vitriol to go around. I guess things move so slow in the bucolic Ledyard (we know it’s bucolic because NOM takes pains to show us chickens and lots of grain fields) the many months seem like a day.
According to Rose, she has a problem administering the new applications because she’s a Christian, and the Bible tells her that marriage is between a man and a woman. Funny thing about that whole biblical marriage thing though, many biblical characters had multiple (and is some cases many) wives. The woman was considered the property of the man, and then there’s the whole thing of a woman having to marry the brother of her husband if her husband dies before fathering a child. So, them’s the rules, I guess, that the N.Y. Legislature took away. So, it’s no longer biblical marriage there in Leyard.
So this GOP State Senator James Forrester who is supposedly a medical doctor (fortunately the sick in his town he’s retired). The batshittery is beyond belief and goes on and on as this blow hard is caught in lie after lie as he tries to hide the animus on which the anti-gay hate bill was based. He was the primary sponsor.
Let’s take a look at what he based it all on:
He says in a town hall it’s because gay men die 20 years sooner because of AIDS…blah, blah, blah. OK, so how does keeping gay people from marrying and encouraging monogamous relationships add to that problem?
When called out on it, he first claims he got the info from the CDC. He assumed, because of his medical license I assume, that Michael would just accept that. When he didn’t, the doctor (lower case “d” is on purpose) then tries to say it’s based on his experience as a practitioner. It appears he did have one patient with AIDS at some point. Then he claims he got it out of a book by Frank Turek, a known homophobe who has no medical or scientific background.
At one point he tries to claim he didn’t say it at all, and that it had nothing to do with the Bill, but Michael plays him the tape from his town hall (oops).
Then he gets upset because Signorile is “trying to trip him up.”
Next he claims that he’s just trying to preserve marriage between one man and one woman for over 5,000 years. Well, I guess he can be forgiven since he was a doctor and not a historian. Obviously in many societies men were permitted multiple wives, and for most of that 5,000 years which the doctor seems to remember so fondly, women were not equal parties in the marriage, but property. I’d call that a pretty big change to his “traditional marriage,” but he’d probably like to see it rolled back a hundred years or so anyway.
Then he says he just wants people to vote on it so it can’t be decided by some federal judge (and he does say federal). Well, again, I guess he was too busy dissecting his cadaver to bother reading the Constitution, but if a federal judge rules, it’s lights out for his amendment anyway.
Signorile points out how gay marriage in Massachusetts hasn’t negatively affected marriage, and the doctor’s response to all that is that he’s not an expert on all these things (never mind he presented himself as such during town halls and debates on the topic), and so he can’t answer Michael’s questions because they are biased.
In the end, he claimed he introduced the bill to protect marriage, but when Michael asks him out right, how does it harm marriage, he admits he doesn’t know. Signorile calls him irresponsible…I would call him much worse.
Then despite being the primary sponsor of the Bill, our good doctor ends the conversation by inviting Michael to call someone else and ask them.