Friday, April 30, 2010

Progressive Christian Pastors Protest Lou Engle and Uganda's Gay Death Penalty Law

     On May 2, The Call, a U.S. evangelical ministry led by Lou Engle, together with its Ugandan affiliate, will host a religious gathering at a stadium in Uganda’s capital Kampala. Among other things, the event aims to rally participants around anti-gay sentiments by urging them to "fight vices eating away at our society", and specifically mentions homosexuality as a societal evil. This comes as Uganda’s Parliament continues to debate an anti-homosexuality bill that is one of the most severe discriminatory measures ever proposed. Though homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, there have been reports that this much harsher bill emerged in part as a result of the anti-gay campaigning conducted in recent years by some U.S.-based evangelical groups with an anti-gay message similar to that of The Call. The May 2 event has the potential to inflame intolerance and worsen the situation for LGBT Ugandans, who have, in recent months, suffered from increased instances of public harassment and targeted violent attacks
     A small group of Christian faith leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. to protest Americans' involvement in the discrimination, harassment, and murder of gays in Uganda.  They are joined by an anonymous (for his safety) gay Ugandan man, who was forced to marry a woman, assaulted in school, raped by a policeman, and fired from his job because he's gay. This is the life of gays in Uganda, under the rule of Born Again Christian President Yoweri Museveni.

     Harry Knox, Director of Religion & Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign, sums up the actions of those like Lou Engle (text from the embedded video below):
     It's clear that there is a movement afoot in this country by the right wing unfortunately to export homophobia. We have done a really good job of combating that in this country and the tide is beginning to turn.  They [members of the religious right] feel the sand slipping under their feet.  They're looking for greener pastures and they're trying to export homophobia to equatorial Africa and South America and other places.  It's incumbent on us, now that we have a little bit of privilege as LGBT folks in this country, to be sure to stand with our sisters and brothers around the world and not let homophobia be exported.

Lady Gaga and Ke$ha Invade Afghanistan, Do Ask, Do Tell

     This video of U.S. troops in Afghanistan dancing to and lipsyching Lady Gaga's "Telephone" stars Privates Big Rob, Pilon, Conley, Castor, Eichor, Baker, and Malibu Milkshake Melcher.

     Besides entertaining hundreds of thousands of pro-military, anti-gay homophobes, the video does many things.  It:
Your tax dollars at work.
Tonight Lady Gaga, tomorrow village bombing.

And for all you Air Force lovers, here are your gay cadets hard at play in Ke$ha's "Tik Tok."

     For more on the gay Air Force experience read Here's What We'll Say by Reichen Lehmkuhl.

     Thanks to Towleroad for the video leads.

Vatican "Caught by Surprise" in Sexual Abuse Scandal, so Pope Benedict XVI Throws the People an Apologetic Crumb

There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.  And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table.

    Surprise!  The word is out.  Cardinal Levada, head of the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (i.e. the new Ratzinger), acknowledged that the Vatican was "caught by surprise" by the velocity of the sexual abuse scandal over the past few months.  Levada stated that he "wouldn't be surprised" if Pope Benedict XVI finally issues an apology for the mishandling of scandal abuse a meeting of a group of June.  Thanks for the crumb, Benny.

     There's nothing like the promise of some theoretical distant apology to quiet desperate Catholics in the pews, but why the wait?  And why give the apology to a group of clergy?  It's the victims of sexual abuse, their families, and the folks in the pews, who have been lied to, their children dangled before pedophiles for generations who deserve the apology, directly, not through the medium of some gathering of clergy.  Thanks for the crumb, Benny.
     Another case of sexual abuse has broken in Brazil (in addition to the octogenarian priest, who got caught having sex with altar boys on video).  Of the new case, Bradly Brooks of the AP reports:
     A Roman Catholic priest in Brazil is facing charges he abused eight boys in cases dating back to 1995, prosecutors said Wednesday, adding to a growing list of allegations against clergy in Latin America.  Father Jose Afonso, 74, is accused of abusing altar boys between the ages of 12 and 16, Sao Paulo state prosecutors said in an e-mailed statement.  Prosecutors said the reported abuses occurred this year, in 2009 and in 2001 in the city of Franca, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of Sao Paulo city. At least one case was reported in 1995 in the neighboring state of Minas Gerais.  Afonso remains free while a judge decides if he should be jailed.  Calls to the Franca diocese rang unanswered.
     The scandals in Argentina, unwrapped in December, march onward, as well.  But, June sounds like a great choice for an apology.  Thanks for the crumb, Benny.

     The scandal in Mexico, concerning Legionaries of Christ founder Rev. Marcial Maciel who raped boys and girls over decades but went unpunished because he was bringing in the conservative Catholic bucks, got some papal attention earlier today.  Since the first accusations of Marcial Maciel's sexual abuse of seminarians  occurred in 1956, it's expedient of the Vatican to hold meetings on what to do about the Legionaries of Christ in 2010.  How blessed is it that Pope Benedict surprised the gathering by dropping in for a visit.  He  is showing the world that he's a hardliner, not a headliner, when it comes to sexual waiting until June to apologize.  Thanks for the crumb, Benny.

     In the case brought in Milwaukee, which is one of many that have been brought across the country, what we’re learning, and what we have known to be the case for twenty-five years, is that all roads are leading to Rome. The decisions are made at the top of the pyramid by the Vatican. What we know is that the documentary trails that are being revealed showing that just like Lawrence Murphy and archbishop Weakland covering-up locally, they’re doing so under directions from Rome, from the Pontiff, from the Pope and his predecessor. And their directions and their laws and their protocols, which is what’s so alarming, require every cleric, every bishop, every cardinal all the way to Rome, to keep these matters secret to avoid scandal of the Universal Church. And in so doing, their concern is more about the reputation than the well-being of the children.
     Twenty-five years!  Imagine if the Vatican had been working as hard as Anderson and other sexual abuse victims' lawyers  to bring justice to perpetrator-priests over the past two and a half decades, rather than covering things up.  After twenty-five years, what's a two month wait for an apology?  Thanks for the crumb, Benny.

     So, what is the Vatican to do about its secret methods for covering up sexual abuse over the past fifty years being exposed, besides promising distant apologies?  The New York Times reports:
     That secrecy was made bluntly clear in a 2001 letter written by a top cardinal, who contended that this was a policy supported uniformly from John Paul on down. Only this month did the Vatican affirm that bishops should follow civil laws in countries that require reporting pedophilia and other abuse to the authorities.  
     This month.  They are working quickly to do something about this in the Vatican.  After all, it took three centuries to figure out a way to rip off pagan Greek philosophy to describe the alleged the full godhood and full manhood of Jesus in the term homoousious.  (If you chose homoiousious, sorry, you're an Arian heretic).  But I digress, back to...
     This month, Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, 80, a former head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, made headlines when he said that John Paul had approved of the letter he wrote to a French bishop in 2001, praising him for facing prison rather than handing over a pedophile priest to civil courts.  The priest was convicted of molesting boys, and the bishop received a three-month suspended prison sentence for not turning him in. In a radio interview last week, the cardinal upped the ante, saying the letter emerged from a meeting where the future pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was also present... Father Lombardi confirmed the letter’s authenticity.
     Critics and defenders of Benedict say healing the church will require action and a full accounting of the past. That will not be easy on the legacy of John Paul.
     Yes, blame it on John Paul, that makes it much easier on Benedict who is doing so much.  The New York Times continues:
     Last year, Benedict confirmed the “heroic virtues” of John Paul, moving him closer to sainthood, but Vatican experts say the renewed attention on historical questions may delay the process.    
     Oops.  How does one blame a saint, who is heaven? 
      Benedict has met with sexual abuse victims four times, including this month in Malta, but only in private and after intense pressure from the media.

     Thanks for the crumb, Benny.

     And what of Jesus' story about the beggar Lazarus?
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.  And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.'  Abraham replied, 'My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.  Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.'
-Jesus of Nazareth, Luke  16:21-25