by Brian Murphy
We believe in things unseen.
I don’t remember the first time I thought I might be gay. I don’t remember the first time I heard someone say homosexuality is a sickness and a sin. I don’t remember the first time I heard someone say transgender people are disgusting. My life–and the culture around me–was so fiercely anti-queer that it is hard to isolate individual events.
When I was in middle school and high school, gay marriage was not legal anywhere. I could hardly imagine what my life would look like. I was not sure I would ever tell a soul.
Many of my friends attended the same evangelical Presbyterian church as me. Whenever homosexuality came up in current events, my parents always affirmed the status quo: it was wrong, it was dangerous, it was weird. My youth pastor told us we didnt even need to discuss the issue because it was so clearly sinful. When I eventually could stand secrecy no longer and came out, a good friend sent me 26 Bible verses to read and consider. My parents asked that I see a counselor, he in turn asked if I would consider reparative therapy (I said absolutely not).
There was nothing around me I could look to and say “This is how I might do life.” I had never heard a pastor say it is ok to be gay.
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Globalizing the Culture Wars is helpful for framing the debate about global church, LGBTQ, and race issues.
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by Rev. Dr. Cindi Love
February 11, 2011
Pastor Lou Engle
International House of Prayer/The Call
Dear Mr. Engle,
We at Soulforce and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) are saddened and distraught at the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans. The social climate in Uganda has become so toxic that LGBT people are not safe in their homes or on the street. And, we believe that the untruths and misrepresentations that you and other U.S. based Christian evangelical leaders continue to proclaim regarding the goodness and wholeness of LGBT people is at the root of this climate of fear and violence. These misrepresentations and untruths must stop now.
The safety of LGBT people, as well as their friends and their families, has been put at risk because of the proposed “anti-homosexual bill.” You have claimed to oppose this bill, but you have not taken a clear and public position in Uganda where your opposition could make a difference. Instead, after fueling the flames of anti-LGBT sentiments in Uganda, you have stood beside the bill’s supporters and referred to their work as righteous. You cannot preach that “homosexuals have demons” or say to LGBT people, “let the Bible kill you?” and then ignore the results of speaking such words. Words have power. And, your words create fear and hatred toward LGBT people. This fear and hatred puts the lives of LGBT people at risk and perpetuates a climate of terror and violence.
The purpose of this letter is to introduce ourselves and let you know that it is our intention to continue to pursue dialog with you until you stop your vitriolic rhetoric against LGBT people.
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by Jason Conner
Last week I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s annual conference: Creating Change. This conference is a series of workshops, day long institutes, and other educational events designed to empower Queer* activists by strengthening our core values while encouraging growth, gain, and unique networking opportunities. With an expanding emphasis on intersectional justice, comprehensive education on trans identities and even sexual empowerment, Creating Change is an incredible opportunity to be an even better activist.
This was my first Creating Change, and I spent much of my time at the Soulforce table, telling people about the next Equality Ride and the other great things we do. I spoke to hundreds of people throughout the week, handed out tons of flyers and even gave out a bunch of prizes. In addition to the general festivities, there were some activities that reminded me of how important the work is that we do here at Soulforce.
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The Rt. Rev. Christopher Senyonjo, retired Anglican bishop of West Buganda issued his first public statement today on the recent murder of human rights advocate David Kato. The bishop worked with Kato through Integrity Uganda and the Civil Society Coalition (composed of 34 human rights organizations including the St. Paul’s Centre for Reconciliation and Equality, headed by the bishop). Both men were pictured on the front page of the controversial Ugandan tabloid “Rolling Stone” where the names and addresses of leading LGBT Ugandans and allies were exposed and called for their execution. Kato was one of the plaintiffs in the case that successfully brought a court injunction to stop the paper’s publication.
Bishop Christopher (79) retired ten years ago and opened a counseling center in Kampala where he began to offer pastoral care to marginalized people including the LGBT community and has been an advocate for decriminalization of homosexuality in Uganda and around the world. The bishop recently attended a UN consultation of faith communities gathered in New York where the call for decriminalization gained support from many faith leaders.
The bishop’s statement is an open letter to the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and fellow bishops of the 70 million strong Anglican Communion. The statement calls for the Anglican Church to be more aggressive in its protection of human rights, particularly in Africa where significant support for continued criminalization of homosexuality is coming from religious leaders. The Anglican Church of Uganda with its 10 million members has been supportive of the recent Bahati Bill which is proposing more harsh sentences and calls for family members to report on suspected LGBT people. The Church has made public statements where they are critical of applying internationally recognized human rights standards to the LGBT community in Uganda. The bishop joins other Anglican bishops including three bishops in New York who responded to the Kato murder with a similar call for greater religious advocacy in the face of anti-gay legislation and increasing violence.
Further information on the bishop’s statement and his work through the St. Paul’s Centre in Kampala may be obtained from Rev. Canon Albert Ogle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 949 338 8830. You can read the full letter on our site.
Please sign this petition calling on US-based pastors and orgnizations to stop their support of violent rhetoric & legislation in Uganda
An open letter to the Anglican Communion on the place of human rights in communities of faith by Rt. Rev. Christopher Senyonjo, Retired Bishop of West Buganda and Director of the St. Paul’s Centre for Equality and Reconciliation, Kampala. February 8th 2011
Dear Archbishop Rowan Williams, Primates and fellow bishops, clergy and people of our diverse Anglican Communion.
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Join Paul Dodd in standing with Sens. Barbara Boxer and Kirsten Gillibrand to send Speaker Boehner and the House Republicans a message: We will not stand for their egregious attacks on women’s health. Visit http://www.stophr3.com to join this fight.