You may have heard that Exodus International, which for 37 years has been “proclaiming freedom from homosexuality,” has finally apologized to the queers and announced that they are closing their “ministry.”
Except Exodus isn’t really closing their ministry—they’re just rebranding. Their closing announcement says that they “unanimously voted to close Exodus International and begin a separate ministry,” to be named Reduce Fear.
Alan Chambers has said way more than enough and should just shut the fuck up.
Alan Chambers, the ex-gay heterosexually-married with kids but still struggling with same sex attractions President of Exodus, wants to “come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”
And to that, I say: Don’t. Just don’t.
You’ve done more than enough damage, Alan, and you’re not going to fix it by continuing to be an attention-seeking charlatan earning money going around now in the guise of trying to “host thoughtful and safe conversations about gender and sexuality.”
There are already plenty of people hosting such conversations, Alan, and you don’t really have any credibility, so just what makes you think you’d be a good facilitator for these conversations?
It’s great that you're shutting down one of the world’s most harmful ex-gay ministries,
“We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people.” — Tony Moore, Exodus board member
and it’s good that you’re kind of apologizing for the harm you’ve done, although at the same time Exodus wants to be absolutely clear that it’s “not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people.”
Alan, perhaps instead of continuing to talk, you could just shut the fuck up for a while.
Stop blathering the evangelical Christian talk of God and “His Kingdom” and the “whole truth of the Gospel” and “coming to Christ” and “surrendering [your] sexuality to Him.”
Just stop talking.
If you want to be in ministry, great. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and then go serve silently in a homeless shelter or a food pantry. You've been talking for so long that it’s way past time for you to let your actions, not your words, show your beliefs.
If you’d do a few years of silent atonement in this manner, then, and only then, would I and others in the LGBT community give a damn about what you might then have to say.
Sean Harris, pastor of the Berean Baptist Church of Fayettesville NC, is being oppressed by queers and liberals, including, I guess, me.
Harris was caught on video ranting about effeminate sons and urging any father of such a boy to “give him a good punch.” The Jesus whom Sean Harris follows would seem to be a manly man who advocates violence.
See a screenshot of the full retraction (in case Harris retracts his lying retraction)
I’d heard about Harris’s egregious advocacy of gay bashing from his pulpit, but it was only today that I found out that Harris, in addition to thinking queer kids just need a punch or two to get straightened out, is a liar.
Lawrence O’Donnell calls Sean Harris out on this in a fun segment you can watch on YouTube. Harris has the audacity in his official retraction to say, “I have never suggested children or those in the LGBT lifestyle should be beaten, punched, abused (physically or pscyhologically) in any form or fashion.” As O’Donnell points out, that’s not only a lie, but it’s a stupid one, easily disproven.
I googled Berean Baptist Church because I wanted to contact Harris about his lie. They’ve taken down their Contact Us page, but the Internet Archive still has a cache of it.
I called and left Harris a message saying that he should be ashamed both for having advocated violence against queer kids and for lying about having done so. I gave my real name and phone number, did not use any profanity and kept my message brief. I probably shouldn’t have bothered because it will just add to Harris’s growing sense of being oppressed.
I also sent an email to everyone listed on BBC’s now-defunct contact page. I got an automated reply from Harris with a link to an important clarification, in which Harris claims, “My words, from Sunday morning’s sermon, about effeminate behavior in children are being completely taken out of context by those in the LGBT community. (Nearly every article is misquoting me.)”
Sorry, dude, but you’re on video saying that fathers should punch their effeminate sons, and you posted on your own blog that you never suggested children should be punched. Try to put that in context if you want, but those are not “misquotes.”
I also got a personal reply from Bill Sturm, a colleague of Harris’s, asking me “to pray for him instead of mass emailing insult.” Apparently Pastor Bill thinks that if I call out his colleague as a liar, that I’m insulting him.
Here’s the email exchange in case you want to see whether I insulted Sean Harris:
Date: 05/05/2012 9:26 AM Subject: Don't punch your kids, gay or straight From: David Lauri <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Your pastor is a liar. He said that he never advocated violence against LGBT kids. God knows otherwise, and so do we because what your pastor said was caught on video. He can apologize if he wants, but to deny that he advocated fathers punching their effeminate sons is a lie. Doesn't the Bible teach us not to bear false witness?
Date: 05/05/2012 9:51 AM Subject: Re: Don't punch your kids, gay or straight From: Bill Sturm <email@example.com> To: David Lauri <firstname.lastname@example.org>
We are not in favor of child abuse and Pastor Sean is imperfect. I ask you to pray for him instead of mass emailing insult.
Thank you, sincerely, for your feedback. Please enjoy your Saturday.
Date: 05/05/2012 9:54 AM Subject: Re: Don't punch your kids, gay or straight From: David Lauri <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Could you please point out what I said that you think was an insult?
Your pastor said, and it's on video, that fathers should punch their effeminate sons, and then your pastor said that he never advocated violence against LGBT kids. That's a lie. Sure, your pastor, as are we all, is imperfect, but to lie about what he did makes his apology suspect.
Date: 05/05/2012 10:13 AM Subject: Re: Don't punch your kids, gay or straight From: Bill Sturm <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: David Lauri <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Thank you for your reply. Whether you agree that our pastor is lying throughout his apology is a judgment of yours. I pray God softens your heart toward us and our pastor.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.
Date: 05/05/2012 10:21 AM Subject: Re: Don't punch your kids, gay or straight From: David Lauri <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Did I say that he was "lying throughout his apology"? I said that he lied about never having advocated violence against LGBT kids.
Sean Harris said in his apology, "I have never suggested children or those in the LGBT lifestyle should be beaten, punched, abused (physically or pscyhologically) in any form or fashion." He's recorded on video as having said, "Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up! Give him a good punch." He can apologize for having advocated that fathers punch their effeminate sons, but to deny that he said fathers should do so is a lie and therefore diminishes his apology.
I pray that you see that your pastor has indeed advocated violence against children and that you will take action to firmly and unequivocally disavow such actions.
Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
Loving one’s neighbors (and caring for the children)
Sorry, Cardinal Sandoval, but I’m afraid you’re a hypocrite.
Do you really think the Christ whom you profess to follow would think that calling people “faggots” is how to love your neighbors? Somehow I don’t think calling me a maricón is what Jesus meant by “Ama a tu prójimo como a ti mismo.”
But, Cardinal Sandoval, the answer to your question, is “yes.” As I pointed out earlier this month to Pastor Mark Creech, there are thousands of children who’ve been neglected or abused by their birth parents and who are in need of homes. So what’s the best way to care for all these children? By excluding people who want to give them homes? Really?
Go clean up the sins of breeders, first, Cardinal, and then, when you’ve stopped the mass production of unwanted children, you can turn back to us maricones.
And by the way, Cardinal Sandoval, I’m Señor Maricón to you, thank you very much.
Thursday, August 12th, 2010
The other day I pulled up at a traffic light behind an SUV with license plates that said, “REPENT7,” and I burst out laughing, for two reasons.
The first reason is that I had just left a worship service at my church. I’m sure there are plenty of Christians (or Christianists) who would say that anyone who goes to my church really should repent, and I bet many of those people, if they ever hear of my seeing these particular license plates right after having left my church, will say God was trying to send me a sign. However, I don’t believe in an omniscient, omnipotent God who sends out signs.
I also laughed out loud, seeing this REPENT7 license plate, for another reason, really more important than the first. You see, just like the driver of this REPENTmobile, I too have vanity license plates, and there’ve been plenty of times when I’ve been stopped at a light, happened to glance in my rear view mirror and seen people laughing and pulling out their cellphones to take pictures of my car with its license plates. Until the REPENTmobile, I’d never myself encountered plates that made me laugh out loud and want to snap a bad cellphone photo.
Now I must admit that the driver of the REPENTmobile does have a point, and I probably should repent, although not for the sins for which this driver probably thinks I should repent. First, by laughing at this driver’s expression of faith, taking a photo of it and posting it with mocking commentary on the Intertubes, I’m probably not behaving as even the Jesus in whom I believe would want. Second, I should probably repent for what I did immediately after photographing the REPENTmobile, which was to get into the other lane, speed up and make sure I was in front of it at the next light so the REPENTmobile’s driver could have a good look at my plates. That was probably unChristian of me, although I suppose another way to look at it is that I was giving the REPENTmobile’s driver another opportunity to pray for someone’s soul.
But I just can’t repent. That would require my actually feeling contrition for my actions, trying to apologize to this unknown driver (a real apology, not the now standard “I’m sorry if you were offended by my actions” kind of apology), and trying to make amends. I’m not sorry, and I suspect that just as I’m strong enough to take whatever comments (mostly positive but some negative) I get because of my vanity plates, so too is this driver strong enough to bear the load of REPENT7 license plates, especially since I’m sure this driver believes he or she does so for Christ.
I guess Pastor Creech wouldn’t approve of the Christian film Pamela’s Prayer, a film given a “Christian Rating” of “5 (highest)” by the Young Ladies Christian Fellowship for its “skillful weaving of Biblical principles, righteous living, and love of family that produces a story that touches the heart and soul.” Why wouldn’t Pastor Creech approve of Pamela’s Prayer?
Bristol Palin, taught by her mother and father how to be a good mother to her son Tripp?
Because this allegedly Christian film teaches that “a widowed Christian father” could “lovingly raise his daughter following Biblical principles—preparing her for marriage and a Godly life.” How on earth could a man without a woman teach a girl anything?
I have to wonder if Pastor Creech approves of the job Sarah and Todd Palin have done teaching their daughters how to be mothers. Does Pastor Creech approve of the way Governor Palin runs about the country giving speeches instead of staying home to take care of her infant son Trig? Does Pastor Creech think that Bristol Palin’s rushing out to give interviews and pose for magazine covers about her unmarried state and her on-again/off-again relationship with her baby daddy, instead of staying home to take care of her son Tripp, is what a “good mother” should do?
Does Pastor Creech think homosexuals are responsible for all these unwanted and abused kids in his state?
Surely Pastor Creech can’t fault Briston Palin for how she acts as a mother, for she learned from her married mother and father, didn’t she?
And I wonder what Pastor Creech has to say about a 2007 article by the Jordan Institute for Families, “North Carolina Foster Care by the Numbers,” which reports that the number of children in foster care in Pastor Creech’s state continues to increase every year? Just who the fuck does Pastor Creech think has been doing all the fucking that produces these unwanted and abused kids? Just who the fuck does Pastor Creech think has been teaching the parents of all these unwanted and abused kids how to be mothers and fathers?
Don’t be an idiot, Pastor Creech. Gay men and lesbians are not responsible for the crisis in this country of poor parenting. Heterosexuals are. And if you want to play a game, Pastor Creech, why don’t you start collecting stories of gay parents who’ve abused their kids? I’d bet that for every one story you find about bad homosexual parents I could find ten about bad heterosexual parents. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Dan Savage’s collection of “Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father” posts.
Friday, May 1st, 2009
tweet (verb): to post on Twitter.com Inflected form: twat or tweeted
I’ve been Twittering, or I guess tweeting is the proper verb form, starting when #amazonfail hit the fan but continuing since. No one cares about #amazonfail any more, but there are always a lot of gay tweets. At least a third of the gay tweets are stupid kids calling things gay, but most of the rest are links to or responses to gay-related news items, and the biggest gay-related news item right now is gay marriage. People tweet about New Hampshire’s and Maine’s legislatures’ votes on gay marriage, and people are tweeting about Miss California’s joining the campaign against gay marriage.
People are also tweeting about how intolerant gay people are being towards Miss California, and they’re tweeting about the National Organization for Marriage’s new ad featuring Miss California, the one that complains about how her religious liberty is being threatened. Christianists are even monitoring the tweets, adding gay Twits to the list of people whom they follow. I should know better than to engage in twitversation with these Christianists, but sometimes I can’t help myself. Today I got a barrage of tweets from a Christianist who’d started following me and with whom I’d tweeted a bit. I’m done because I’m not going to change his mind nor will he change mine, but I want to comment here about one of his tweets in particular and about Christianists’ perception that they’re being persecuted somehow.
This Christianist twat that “[His] children are discriminated against in school [because] they believe in creation and pray before eating lunch.”
If I cared to engage him further directly, I’d ask him exactly how his kids are being discriminated against. I’d bet that he’d say they’re being discriminated for believing in creation because Creationism or Intelligent Design (or however else the Christianists are dressing up the idea that the earth and all that is on it was created 1,000 years ago as is) isn’t taught side-by-side with Evolution in public schools. My answer to that is that Creationism is a religious belief, one that not all religious people share, and as a religious belief it’s not supposed to be taught in public schools. If this guy wants to send his kids to a private school or to a Sunday School class which teaches the religious belief that Genesis is literally true, that’s his right. That public schools don’t teach the Bible is not discrimination.
I also might ask this Christianist for a specific example of discrimination against his kids based on their praying before lunch. Perhaps he could say that a teacher was verbally harrassing his kids because she doesn’t like kids who pray or that the principal told his kids that Christians aren’t allowed to pray in the school cafeteria. I’d be really surprised though. If something like either of these scenarios happened, this guy could justifiably make a big deal of it. A court case about kids not being allowed to pray before they eat lunch would be such big news that everyone would be hearing about it.
And think about it. If this guy’s kids want to take a moment before they start eating to thank God for their food, not only will no one try to stop them but also there’s no way anyone could stop them. What does it take to say a prayer? Even if we were living in some Godless dictatorship that really did forbid prayer, all someone who wants to pray has to do is to pause quietly and think their prayer. If this guy’s kids want to think before they start eating, “Thank you, God, for providing us with food and shelter and clothing, and please help America’s leaders see the light and turn America into a theocracy,” no one can prevent them from doing so.
As a matter of fact, if you want to get all Biblical about it, praying in this manner is exactly how Jesus said we should pray. Christianists who instead want to pray “on the street corners [or in the school cafeterias] to be seen by men,” who want to “babbl[e] on like pagans,” aren’t following the Bible which they think should be guiding America.
So this Christianist thinks his kids are discriminated against because we don’t have big mass teacher-led prayers in school cafeterias, during which kids who don’t want to pray really would be discriminated against. In other words, unless he can enforce his views—that there should be prayer before lunch—on everyone else, he’s being oppressed.
Which brings us to Miss California and the National Organization for Marriage. When gay marriage is legalized, will she be oppressed? Will she no longer be able to enter into a God-sanctioned “opposite marriage”*? Will she no longer be allowed to say that she thinks gay marriage is wrong?
Of course not. Miss California will still be allowed to marry a man. Her constitutional rights to say that gay marriage is a sin and to attend a church that doesn’t allow gay marriage will still exist.
Carrie Prejean, Miss California 2009 and anti-gay marriage spokesmodel, who’d rather not face criticism (and thus I won’t comment on her rather interesting outfit choice here)
But that’s not good enough for Miss California and for the Christianists. No, they’re being oppressed not just if they’re still allowed to refrain from same sex marriages themselves and to say why they do so but also if they aren’t able to prevent those who disagree with them from having the right to enter into and to support same sex marriages. And anyone who criticizes their views is being intolerant.
Well guess what, Christianists? Your having the right to oppose same sex marriage does not include the right to be sheltered from any criticism of your views. Criticism is not the same thing as intolerance. And the inability to prevent others from taking actions of which you do not approve is not the same thing as oppression.
*I did make fun on Twitter of Miss California’s rather incoherent answer in which she used the term “opposite marriage” for so-called traditional marriage, and someone twat in response that he too might not have done so well if asked to response to a question on national television. Um, hello, answering questions is a traditional part of beauty pageants! Contestants are judged not only on their appearance but also on their ability to respond on the spot cogently and lucidly. Miss California has every right to her views, but she should have taken a deep breath and said simply, “I respect that Americans differ on this issue, but I believe that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman.” Rambling on for the alloted time just sustains beauty queen stereotypes.
No one, other than crazy Christianists such as Don Wildmon, thinks that incest and apotemnophilia and toucherism are sexual orientations. They couldn’t win by convincing Americans that it’s okay to allow hate crimes against queers, so now they’re desperately trying to make people think that sexual orientation isn’t just whether one is straight or gay or bi but also is whether one wants to have sex with amputees. Gotta give them credit for imagination.
Well I say, more power to ’em! The crazier the Christianists talk, the more irrelevant they become. Go ahead, rant and rave about how Congress is about to make hate crimes against kleptophiliacs illegal. Yes, try to make Americans believe that should H.R. 1913 become law that our country will be overrun by gerontosexuals. Good luck with that.
Thursday, June 14th, 2007
You may already know that I subscribe to the American Family Association's Action Alert e-mails and that I consider AFA Founder and Chairman Donald E. Wildmon to be a liar. Today I got another one of his Alerts, and I just feel like screaming, "Donald Wildmon, you are such a fucking liar!"
Today's Alert is nothing new really, just the AFA's latest attempt to get their members to tell Congress not to add sexual orientation to the federal hate crimes law. I'm still amazed, though, at how flagrantly Wildmon lies. The Alert's headline is "A bill in Congress makes it a crime for pastors and churches to speak against homosexuality." Within the e-mail, Wildmon claims that "House bill H.R. 1592 and Senate bill S. 1105 would make negative statements concerning homosexuality, such as calling the practice of homosexuality a sin from the pulpit, a 'hate crime' punishable by law." These claims are absolutely and completely wrong, and I think that Wildmon knows that.
Here's the text of H.R. 1592. I defy anyone to point to the section of it that says a pastor can't preach against homosexuality. Instead what it talks about are "crimes of violence." Now I don't really buy the old adage about sticks and stones—words can in fact hurt people, especially kids—but the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 is not about punishing anyone who simply says homosexuality is wrong or a sin or even someone who calls someone else a faggot. What it's about is punishing people who "willfully causes bodily injury to any person ... because of [their] actual or perceived ... sexual orientation." Bodily injury, not psychological or mental. Wildmon and his fellow Christianists can thump their Bibles as much as they want, and they can continue to bash homosexuals verbally. They just can't bash us physically, which surely as the Christians they claim to be, they don't want to do.
Wildmon mentions a California lawsuit (but doesn't cite a particular case) that would make the use of certain terms in government workplaces a "'hate speech' crime," whatever that is. Even if that's true (and why on earth would I believe a word Wildmon says), that's a far cry from banning speech in church.
I don't think Wildmon seriously thinks anyone intends to regulate what clergy people are allowed to say in their places of worship. I think instead that he's counting on the ignorance of his followers and is willfully lying to them in order to incite them to action. And the action he wants is not just to defeat the hate crimes bill. No, he wants all his followers, outraged by this Alert, to "please support [him] with a small gift."
Donald Wildmon, you're an ugly man. Both outside and inside.
Tuesday, March 20th, 2007
Now you may think it strange, but I subscribe to the American Family Association's free Action Alerts. AFA's Founder and Chairman, Donald E. Wildmon, takes time to send me warnings of various things going on that threaten the moral foundation of our nation and gives me links through which I can write the appropriate politicians or businesspeople to urge them to take action to stop whatever indecent behavior Donald is warning about.
In the past few months Donald has warned me of Charlie Sheen's desecration of Christmas, of Fox's deliberate display of the F-word (fuck, not faggot) during prime time television, of our tax dollars supporting inappropriate art at the Sundance Film Festival, of the need to make English our official language, of Discovery Channel's slamming of Christianity by its speculatory "documentary" about the family of Jesus, and of Ford Motor Company's cessation and then renewal of support for the homosexual agenda. Each time I've taken advantage of Donald's links and e-mailed personal notes to the various individuals involved, but Donald would probably be disappointed to know that I don't take AFA's suggested wording but instead say what I personally feel. Donald and I often disagree about what's actually a threat to our nation's morals.
Just now I've received Donald's latest warning, about the proposed law that would extend federal hate crimes protection to cover crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation, and I'm shocked, absolutely shocked, to find that Donald Wildmon is a liar. His ActionAlert today includes a link to a page with "highly offensive" footage from last year's gay pride parade in Dallas, Texas (to the right you can see a screenshot showing some of the offensive activity). On that page, Donald makes two claims in bold, both of which are lies:
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act would increase protection for the kind of activity shown on this video.
Sorry, Donald, but the law does no such thing. The LLEHCPA says nothing about the legality of activities in gay pride parades. If having sex in public is illegal in a particular jurisdiction, the LLEHCPA will not make it legal. What the LLEHCPA does say is that if you beat up or kill gay people because you find their behavior "highly offensive," you've committed a hate crime.
If this "hate crimes" bill is passed, and you publicly protest, complain or oppose the type of activity in this video, your action could eventually be construed to be subject to prosecution for a criminal act.
This to me is the most offensive lie. The LLEHCPA does not ban speech or demonstrations. If the AFA wants to picket gay pride parades and say that homosexual behavior is offensive and immoral, the AFA will still legally be able to do so. The LLEHCPA merely says that if you physically attack people based on such a belief, you're committing a hate crime.
Surely the AFA doesn't want to beat up or kill homosexuals or advocate that others do so. Perhaps they're just opposed to the concept of hate crimes in general. Even some gay people oppose hate crimes legislation. But if the AFA disapproved of hate crimes legislation, surely they'd be advocating repealing it altogether for all groups, instead of just making that you can bash a queer without doing any extra time.
Sunday, December 3rd, 2006
Real Christians only, please
If you read my blog last month, you know already what ChMS stands for and that some ChMS companies don't care for churches who cater to alternative lifestyles. Despite a few setbacks my church's search for the right web-enabled ChMS has been continuing, with the latest possible candidate being Ekklesia 360, a system that does everything from managing web content to attracting online traffic to involving your community in the ministry to spreading the gospel.
Yes, gospel is spelled with a lower-case "g" on Ekklesia's website, although as it turns out, I'm thinking they should be capitalizing it, because The Gospel's pretty important to them. You see, after we contacted Ekklesia, they took a look at our website and told us they didn't want to do business with us, though not for the reason you might expect, that we're soft on homosexuality. No, it's because of the shocking news, featured on the front page of our website, that a Jew was coming to Cross Creek to preach, and not to preach the Good News that Jesus is Christ.
Rabbi Judy Chessin
Our Jewish guest this weekend was none other than Temple Beth Or's founding rabbi, Rabbi Judy Chessin, an interesting choice for the first weekend of Advent, the season during which we anticipate Christ's birth.
Rabbi Chessin did not come to proclaim that she was a Jew for Jesus but rather explained that she does not believe Jesus was the Messiah. She was quite tactful about it, explaining the criteria outlined in Jewish tradition for what it takes to be the Messiah. A person must fulfill every one of these criteria to be the Messiah, and at least one of them, worldwide peace, is a humdinger. Logically, Rabbi Chessin said, we wouldn't expect there ever to be someone who could qualify. Even Christians don't believe Jesus achieved world peace during his time on Earth, hence the need for a Second Coming.
However, it was our similarities, not our differences, that Rabbi Chessin wanted to stress. We all are waiting for the Messianic age, whether it is marked by the Messiah's return or by his (or her, Rabbi Chessin said) initial arrival. We all need to work together to bring about this time when there'll be no more injustice or ignorance or disease or poverty.
Ekklesia's not having any of this ecumenism (it can't be a coincidence that ecumenism about rhymes with secular humanism, can it?) though. If we're willing to have a rabbi, and a woman nonetheless, stand up in our church and say that Jesus isn't Christ, no matter what she might say about peace on Earth and goodwill toward men, then we're not Ekklesia's type of Christians, and God knows, if they took just any type of Christians, they might as well rename their software Ecumenia 360.
What CCB preaches is 1st Corinthians 6:9, which CCB cites in their Terms of Service to show that homosexuality is a sin which "churches must take care" not "to affirm." If your church is "in conflict with [CCB's] Statement of Belief," as I would assume Cross Creek is, then "CCB reserves the right to refuse Service to" you.
Church Community Builder appears to condone lesbian couples
What CCB practices, however, is that their software, unlike ConnectionPower, will gladly allow you to set up a family with two persons of the same sex, designating one the head of household and the other the spouse. Each person can keep his or her own last name, although, presumably in keeping with 1st Corinthians, the last name of the head of household is the name used for the family. To see this for yourself, sign up for a CCB demo login today.
One finding of our Raising the Roof program was that Cross Creek needs better processes to manage our relationships with our visitors and members. Manage? Relationships? Visitors and members? If that makes you think of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, then you're not far off. There's a niche industry for church CRM software, though they don't call it CRM but rather ChMS or Church Management Systems. However ChMS websites and salespeople do still reek of corporate jargon, mixed in with some Jesus and Kingdom talk.
Our Raising the Roof team leader found some ChMS software that seemed promising, ConnectionPower, a package that includes four modules, PowerVisitor, PowerMember, PowerWeb and PowerGiving. ConnectionPower is not just a software package but rather is a theory for managing church visitors and members, the process for which is carried out through use of the software. Churches get volunteers willing to call visitors, and a membership director uses PowerVisitor to assign volunteers visitors to call. The volunteers get their assignments by e-mail and they log into PowerVisitor to report back on their interactions with visitors—what are visitors' interests or concerns, etc. PowerMember does stuff like notice when members' regular attendance varies, triggering alerts for them to be called to see if they have any life problems, etc.
ConnectionPower's website, like its software, is about more than just a software package. In addition to information about the software, there's also a section, called PowerGrowth Plus!, devoted to the theology of the company and its founder, Allen Ratta, and featuring some rather revealing articles§ and book recommendations¶, none of which led me to think Ratta or his company would be so progressive as to embrace, for example, gayliberationtheology.
I shared my concerns about Ratta's theology with the team evaluating ChMS software and asked if we couldn't find ChMS software companies run by or marketing to progressive Christians. The consensus was, however, that the team should continue to consider ConnectionPower because it seemed like a good package and we'd be buying the software, not the theology.
ConnectionPower is based on a "traditional family model"
A demo over the Internet was arranged with a salesperson from ConnectionPower, and we got to see more of the neat stuff the software can do, including allowing members to log into a private section of a church's website to update their addresses and the ability to generate an online church directory.
The pages we were shown seemed to include families whose names were all in the format "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," so I asked the salesperson whether the software could handle couples with different last names. She said she didn't know what I meant, and I said, what if a woman keeps her maiden name when she gets married. She said, "Wow, I've never been asked that question before," so I didn't bother continuing down the path to ask what if a couple were both men or both women. (No woman who goes to a evangelical church is allowed to use her own last name?!)
We finished the demo, and the team decided that the ConnectionPower software would be a worthwhile investment for Cross Creek to make. A few weeks later our church council approved making the purchase, and it seemed that we'd be implementing the software starting in 2007.
Except that the question of what if a couple were both men or both women really was a question we should have asked at the demo because it turns out the answer is that in the eyes of ConnectionPower, same-sex couples are two individuals who aren't related. The software will not allow you to link two individuals of the same gender as a family. Such couples can of course be entered as individuals, but they'll be listed separately in the online church directory, receive separate mailings, etc. That may be acceptable, or even desirable, for the vast majority of churches using ConnectionPower, but it just won't work for Cross Creek.
Our Raising the Roof team leader, after having been ignored for several weeks by the salesperson about this issue and some other questions, finally e-mailed ConnectionPower founder Allen Ratta himself. Ratta replied yesterday that while he doesn't want to dictate theology, the ConnectionPower software is based on a "traditional family model" and would be difficult to change. Well, none of us on the team believe that changing the software to allow for same-sex couples in a family unit would really be all that difficult to change, and thus Cross Creek Community Church will not be juxtaposed alongside ConnectionPower customers like Antioch, the Apostolic Church.
One church, however, that Cross Creek is now positioned alongside is the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, the world's largest gay church, which was officially welcomed Oct. 29th into the United Church of Christ. With 4,300 members, Cathedral of Hope counts as a mega-church and probably knows a thing or two about ChMS.
What's the big comma about? Well, as Gracie Allen said, "Never place a period where God has placed a comma," or in other words, "God is still speaking." I'll update you further as Cross Creek continues to explore how we can connect powerfully to our visitors and members.
"... Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me.' [This is one of the seven great ego eimi statements of Christ in the gospel of John.] You can't accept Jesus as only a prophet if you read and understand His words. You must either believe that He was God or that He was a madman." What followed was a 20 minute interlude where I had the opportunity to share the claims of Christ in a most engaging way.
Yesterday evening I attended a Community Conversation put on by the Centerville Washington Diversity Council at Centerville High School on "Gay & Lesbian Issues at the Intersection of Faith & Public Policy." I would not have chosen to go to this on my own — I'm way past the point where I need to hear the same tired arguments brought out by conservatives that homosexuality is wrong and homosexuals need compassion and cures — but my friend and pastor, Mike Castle, was on the panel and asked for people to come be in the audience to support him. Another friend and Cross Creeker called me at work a few hours before the event to see if I'd be going; he was worried about going alone. As you can see from the picture, he needn't have worried. Between Cross Creek and PFLAG there were lots of supportive people there.
Normandy United Methodist Church
Ephiphany Lutheran Church
Cross Creek Community Church
Dayton Christian High School
I suppose it's good that Centerville and Washington Twp. have a diversity council and that they're willing to discuss gay issues. Still the diversity of the panel selected for the program was a bit ironic — four white men, all Christian, all Protestant. That last bit was unplanned; Dr. Brad Kallenberg, professor of theology at the University of Dayton was originally supposed to be a panelist (no, wait, Kallenberg may actually also be a Protestant), but his spot was filled by Mr. Paul Pyle, who teaches Bible and Yearbook at Dayton Christian High School. Rounding out the panel, in addition to Mike, were the Rev. John Bradosky of Epiphany Lutheran Church and the Rev. Tom Harry of Normandy United Methodist Church. I hadn't met any of these other panelists before. It was only upon hearing about the event that I learned that Harry is the father of a friend of mine at Cross Creek, and it was only after googling Bradosky that I learned he is Centerville's official chaplain (thank God I don't pay Centerville taxes or I'd be pissed).
The format of the evening was that the moderator, WDTN's Marsha Bonhart, posed six questions (presumably written by the Diversity Council), each of which was answered by two panelists (one from each side). Then after a break there was a very brief time during which she read selected written questions from the audience for various panelists to answer. I liked how Bonhart started her duties as moderator; she said she had to be impartial but implied (especially later) that she personally supported the pro-gay side. Rather than echo the questions and responses, I'll highlight some points that caught my attention.
Homosexuality is an abomination but incest is not!
(You still shouldn't fuck kids!)
Bradosky talked about the holiness code found in Leviticus and pointed out that although lots of sexual behaviors are banned, such as adultery and incest, it is only homosexuality to which the term "to'ebah" or abomination is applied. Since Bradosky took such care to point that out, I suppose he feels that homosexuality is worse than incest. I guess it's refreshing that unlike most conservatives he sees a difference between incest and homosexuality.
Bradosky also went multiple times to the creation story in Genesis (surely he realizes there are two creation stories in Genesis) and said that since the story's all about God creating Man and Woman for each other, homosexuality must be wrong. Sex, he said, is about the reunion of two parts. Penises and vaginas fit together. Poor guy doesn't seem to realize that penises and rectums fit together too, as do penises and mouths.
Bradosky certainly knows the party line on homosexuality. Other old faithful points he trotted out include:
love the sinner and reject the sin
marriage has always been defined as heterosexual (hmm, well marriage hasn't always been defined as one man, one woman, though, has it?)
that the majority decides issues is the American way (too bad the majority in the South couldn't vote to continue slavery or Jim Crow laws?)
Scripture doesn't promise that life will be fair (hmm, I guess there's no need to work for justice here on Earth; just believe in Jesus and you'll get your rewards in heaven)
Pyle did pretty good for his team too. He kept insisting on two things, that we have to live our lives by Biblical authority and that homosexual behavior leads to destructive behavior. Pyle does acknowledge that the Bible is silent on some "disputable matters" on which people may disagree, but lest we think that Jesus was silent about homosexuality, we need to remember that Jesus went back to Genesis to answer a question about divorce and Genesis is, as Pyle's teammate Bradosky already pointed out, all about Man and Woman fitting together, so actually Jesus said homosexuality is wrong without having to resort to so many words. In the words of the Church Lady, how convenient! that we have Pyle to interpret the Bible for us.
Responding to a later followup question about what he would do if a child of his came out as gay to him, Pyle told us about his daughter who suffers from mental illness and how he struggles to help her find counseling that will help her avoid destructive behaviors. It's obvious that Pyle didn't get the memo that the American Psychiatric Association doesn't consider homosexuality to be a mental illness and that he doesn't know a whole lot of gay people. After the forum, I went up to Pyle to invite him to come to Cross Creek where he can get to know some gay people whose lives aren't all about destructive behavior. (I suppose I should hope Pyle never finds the pics I took at Folsom, though he can find plenty of pics of heterosexuals engaged in destructive behavior too if he cares to look.)
Harry did an okay job explaining what he saw the purposes of marriage to be (procreation, faithfulness, sacrament which points to God's loving nature, and support/companionship) and explaining that procreation was more than fertilization but also nurturing and caring for children. I'm sure he came across as wildly secular humanistic though to the conservative members of the audience because when asked in a followup question what the authority for his beliefs was, he said he'd sort of come up with his views on his own (an honest answer which probably mirrors my own thoughts but not appealing to people who like Biblical Authority).
Mike personalized the issue, talking about his partner Dan and their children Gideon and Jamie, about how Dan wouldn't receive Social Security spousal benefits if Mike died and about the difficulty in providing legal protections for their non-heterosexual family. Oh well, in the words of Pastor Bradosky, "Scripture doesn't promise that life will be fair."
Tuesday, December 7th, 2004
I got an interesting letter in the mail today, from the Rev. Wayne Delatte of the Interfaith Foundation of Mason, Ohio. He wanted to tell me about God's message, but the message wasn't what you might expect from a Christian minister. He didn't mention gaining eternal life by being born again and accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior. He didn't mention Jesus's urging us to love our neighbors and to care for strangers, the sick and the poor. So what did he mention?
Money. Money and bizarre instructions. Rev. Wayne wants me to think about how much money I need. He wants me to set a glass of water on a piece of paper on which I've written that amount of money, after I've taken three sips from the water. He wants me to press his letter to my heart and to my forehead. And most importantly he wants me to "release my seed [...] to God" and to "expect an unusual miracle release." (If you're thinking that that language is rather onanistic, shame on you!)
Sorry, Rev. Wayne, but you're not getting my seed or my money. I don't "feel led" "on authority of God's eternal word" to send you "$14 or $17" or "another amount." I have to give you credit, though, for keeping costs down and profits up by sticking to a simple black and white bulk mailing. Sure, Steve Munsey prophesied that we each should be giving God Benny Hinn $79, but they've got television production costs to cover.
Monday, September 20th, 2004
As civilrights.org and Queer Day, among others, report, Jimmy Swaggart is worried that gay men are going to hit on him. So worried that "if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died."
There are so many things wrong with Jimmy's saying that, but let me just name a few:
Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors. Whether Jimmy likes it or not (or whether gay men like it or not), gay men are his neighbors too. Jesus wants Jimmy to love us, not kill us.
Jimmy doesn't seem to remember what his mother taught him about accepting compliments and saying no, thank you. Suppose a gay man did come up to Jimmy and said, "Jimmy, I find you incredibly sexy. Will you fuck me I love you. Will you marry me?" Assuming Jimmy doesn't want to accept this kind offer (Jimmy's fellow televangelist Paul Crouch is alleged to have said yes to a similar offer eight years ago), all Jimmy has to say is "Thanks, but no thanks."
I know that even Paul Crouch allegedly gets offers of gay sex, but somehow I think it'll be a cold day in hell before some gay man hits on Jimmy Swaggart. It's dangerous to speak for other people, but I'll go out on a limb and say for all gay men that Jimmy Swaggart is not our type.
By the way, doing a search for pictures of Jimmy, I came across his interesting CD Then Jesus Came. If I believed in the same God Jimmy does, I might not mention this, but I have to confess that the first thing I wondered when I saw his CD's title is what Jimmy was doing to Jesus before He came.
Friday, August 27th, 2004
Okay, maybe I watch too much TV (in my defense I was working on my computer too), but while I was channel hopping today I learned the secret to prosperity, which is a gift of $79 to Benny Hinn Ministries. Steve Munsey, a guest on This is Your Day, explained that because some priests over 2,000 years ago made 9 sacrifices and sprinkled blood on an altar 7 times we today are called by God to send in $79 to his friend Benny Hill Hinn. If we do so, we will receive in return a double portion (of what?). Why $79 and not 79 shekels? Do 79 Canadian dollars count?
Following Pastor Steve's wise words, Pastor Benny explained, "This election coming in November is spiritual. You need to pray and seek God. Look at what God's plan is for America." Maybe that's what the double portion is. $79 gets you not only eternal life but also a chance to support Bush's campaign.