View Full Version : A Gay Christian Hero...
03-29-2006, 06:08 PM
Family kept ex-hostage's sexual orientation secret
Last Updated Mon, 27 Mar 2006 22:58:44 EST
Friends and family of former Canadian hostage James Loney
kept his homosexuality secret during his captivity to protect his
security, says a co-director of Christian Peacemaker Teams.
"It's a sad reality around the whole world today that gays and
lesbians are more vulnerable to violence than straight people,"
said Doug Pritchard. Freed Canadian hostage James Loney,
centre, followed by partner Dan Hunt, rear, brother Matt and
sister-in-law Donna, rushes to greet friends at Pearson
International Airport in Toronto on Sunday. (CP Photo/Frank
"And we were concerned in Jim's current vulnerable state of
captivity that if that was more widely known, that he could be
Loney, 41, and two CPT colleagues Canadian Harmeet Singh
Sooden and Briton Norman Kember were rescued on March
23, four months after being taken hostage in Baghdad by a
little-known Iraqi group.
A fourth abducted colleague, 54-year-old American Tom Fox,
was shot to death earlier this month.
Loney's partner, Dan Hunt, chose to remain silent from the
outset of the hostage-taking. Loney first mentioned his partner
after he arrived in Canada on Sunday.
"I'm going to disappear for a little while into a different kind of
abyss an abyss of love," Loney said at Toronto's Pearson
International Airport. "I need some time to get reacquainted with
my partner Dan."
Hunt made his first public appearance when he greeted his
03-29-2006, 06:09 PM
Statement by James Loney after arrival home
Freed hostage Jim Loney returned to Canada from Iraq on Sunday. He made the following statement:
During my captivity, I sometimes entertained myself by imagining this day. Sometimes, I despaired of ever seeing it. Always I ached for it. And so here we are.
For 118 days, I disappeared into a black hole and somehow by God's grace I was spit out again. My head is swirling and there are times when I can hardly believe it's true.
We had to wear flak jackets during our helicopter transport from the International Zone to the Baghdad airport and I had to keep knocking on the body armour I was wearing to reassure myself this was all really happening.
It was a terrifying, profound, powerful, transformative and excruciatingly boring experience. Since my release and rescue from captivity I have been in a constant state of wonder and bewilderment and surprise as I slowly discover the magnitude of the effort to secure our lives and freedom -- Tom Fox, Norman Kember, Harmeet Sooden and myself.
A great hand of solidarity reached out for us, a hand that included the hands of Palestinian children holding pictures of us, and the hands of the British soldier who cut our chains with a bolt cutter. That great hand was able to deliver three of us from the shadow of death.
I am grateful in a way that can never be adequately expressed in words. There are so many people that need this hand of solidarity right now today, and I'm thinking specifically of prisoners held all over the world, people who have slipped into an abyss of detention without charge, due process, hope of release; some victims of physical and psychological torture, people unknown and forgotten. It is my deepest wish that every forsaken human being should have a hand of solidarity reaching out to them.
My friend and fellow Canadian in captivity, Harmeet Sooden, showed me something yesterday. Our captors gave us notebooks and Harmeet opened his notebook to show me two fractions, three quarters and four quarters that Tom had written.
`It was the only thing he wrote in my book,' (Harmeet) said.
Tom, who had been a professional musician, wrote them as part of a lesson he was giving Harmeet in music theory: three-quarter time, four-quarter time.
Harmeet put his finger over the three quarters and said, `In the beginning we were four quarters.' Then he put his finger over the fourth quarter and said, `Now, we are only three quarters.'
Tom is not coming home with us. I am so sorry.
People have been asking, `What's the first thing you're going to do when you get home?'
All I really want to do is to love and be loved by the people that I love. The one specific thing might be to wash a sinkful of dirty dishes. After this, I'm going to disappear for a little while into a different kind of abyss, an abyss of love.
I need some time to get reacquainted with my partner Dan, my family, my community and freedom itself. I'm eager to tell the story of my captivity and rescue but I need a little time first.
For the British soldiers who risked their lives to rescue us, to the government of Canada, who sent a team to Baghdad to help secure our release, for all those who thought about and prayed for us, for all those who spoke for us when we had no voice, I am forever and truly grateful.
It's great to be alive.
03-29-2006, 06:26 PM
He was in Iraq with an organization called Christian Peacemaker Teams.
The verses they use for their organization are a powerful lesson in non-violence:
Exodus 20:13 You shall not kill.
Matthew 5:43-44 "You have heard that is was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
Matthew 26:52 Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword."
John 15:13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.
Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
03-29-2006, 06:31 PM
Christian Peacemaker Teams - Overview
CPT's Motto: "Getting In the Way”
The Mission of CPT
"Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) offers an organized, nonviolent alternative to war and other forms of lethal inter-group conflict. CPT provides organizational support to persons committed to faith-based nonviolent alternatives in situations where lethal conflict is an immediate reality or is supported by public policy. CPT seeks to enlist the response of the whole church in conscientious objection to war, and in the development of nonviolent institutions, skills and training for intervention in conflict situations. CPT projects connect intimately with the spiritual lives of constituent congregations. Gifts of prayer, money and time from these churches undergird CPT’s peacemaking ministries."
"We believe that the mandate to proclaim the Gospel of repentance, salvation and reconciliation includes a strengthened Biblical peace witness.
"We believe that faithfulness to what Jesus taught and modeled calls us to more active peacemaking.
"We believe that a renewed commitment to the Gospel of Peace calls us to new forms of public witness which may include nonviolent direct action."
- CPT founding conference: Techny, Illinois
Church of the Brethren
Friends United Meeting
Mennonite Church Canada
Mennonite Church USA
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
Congregation of St. Basil (the Basilians)
Every Church a Peace Church
On Earth Peace Assembly
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Participation from a broad range of Christian traditions.
CPTers "get in the way" of Israeli soldiers preparing to open fire on peaceful Palestinian protesters.
Christian Peacemaker Teams
Équipes Chrétiennes d’Action pour la Paix
Equipos Cristianos de Acción por la Paz
Offices - U.S.
P.O. Box 6508; Chicago, IL 60680
Tel: 773-277-0253; Fax: 773-277-0291
Offices - Canada
25 Cecil St., Unit #307
Toronto, ON M5T 1N1
Tel: 416-423-5525; Fax: 416-423-7140
CPTers accompany Grassy Narrows (ON) First Nation blockades of loggers clear cutting their land Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) arose from a call in 1984 for Christians to devote the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war. Enlisting the whole church in an organized, nonviolent alternative to war, today CPT places violence-reduction teams in crisis situations and militarized areas around the world at the invitation of local peace and human rights workers. CPT embraces the vision of unarmed intervention waged by committed peacemakers ready to risk injury and death in bold attempts to transform lethal conflict through the nonviolent power of God’s truth and love.
Initiated by Mennonites, Brethren and Quakers with broad ecumenical participation, CPT’s ministry of Biblically-based and spiritually-centered peacemaking emphasizes creative public witness, nonviolent direct action and protection of human rights.
A strategy developed thoughtfully over the years has taught us that:
~ trained, skilled, international teams can work effectively to support local efforts toward nonviolent peacemaking;
~ “getting in the way” of injustice through direct nonviolent intervention, public witness and reporting to the larger world community can make a difference;
~ peace team work engages congregations, meetings and support groups at home to play a key advocacy role with policy makers.
Current Violence Reduction Projects
Arizona – a seasonal presence along the Arizona/ Mexico border since 2004. As part of a campaign to challenge U.S. immigration policies that result in hundreds of migrant deaths in the dessert every summer, team members conduct cross-border prayer vigils, remain alert to vigilante threats and monitor border patrol officers’ treatment of migrants.
Colombia – a continuing presence in the Magdalena Medio region since February 2001. Team members support Christians working for a peaceful end to Colombia’s 40-year-old civil war through public prayer, fasting and nonviolent action. Activities include accompanying communities along the Opón River formerly displaced by paramilitary violence and responding to widespread killings and huge infusions of foreign military aid.
Iraq – a Baghdad-based presence since October 2002. Team members accompanied the Iraqi people through the U.S.-led 2003 war and continue during the post-war occupation to expose abusive acts by U.S. Armed Forces and support Iraqis committed to nonviolent resistance.
Palestine – a continuing presence in the Hebron District (West Bank) since June 1995. Team members stand with Palestinians and Israeli peace groups engaged in nonviolent opposition to Israeli military occupation, collective punishment, settler harassment, home demolitions and land confiscation.
03-30-2006, 09:41 AM
Thanks for posting that, Nathan. Christian Peacemaker Teams truly takes methods of nonviolence several notches higher.
Kara Speltz, who is on staff with Soulforce, has been worried about her friend Jim since the kidnapping in November. On staff calls she would ask us to keep him in our prayers. I didn't know what to say that would offer comfort. I thought about the danger they were in and it overpowered my hopes.
Three monthes ago Kara sent us this picture of Jim taken from their previous trip to Iraq. As she prayed for their release, she wanted us to know how beautiful he is as a person. I am so glad that she will get to see him again.
03-30-2006, 10:10 AM
A short video of James' parents & sister...
03-30-2006, 10:16 AM
After MUCH research, I have determined that James' partner Dan Hunt is the guy in the blue shirt right behind him.
Behind Dan, is his brother Matt, wearing glasses.
James' sister-in-law, Donna, is on his left.
03-30-2006, 05:39 PM
Here's a video of James speaking at a news conference...
"Dan Hunt, Loney's partner, said that he also felt in captivity during the ordeal.
Their relationship was kept quiet during Loney's captivity because of fears that it would have incited his captors.
"On the day that James disappeared I had to disappear too," Hunt said. "Because I wasn't seen, a big part of James' life also wasn't seen."
He described their life before and after the ordeal as "rich."
"He and I have a rich life together," Hunt said. "I want to thank all of those people who haven't been seen yet for helping me through these tough times."
The couple lives in a community of adjoining households known as the Toronto Catholic Worker. The community consists of about 30 people, some in need of assistance and others who have made long-term commitments to the housing project. "
08-13-2006, 11:44 AM
In the August 29th issue of The Advocate there is a really insightful and powerful article on James Loney, his partner, Dan, and their experience with his being kidnapped in Iraq. For example, I did not know (or missed in the other articles) that he only went over there for 10 days and was kidnapped on the 4th day.
Here is an online excerpt:
Kidnapped in Iraq: The closet or death (http://www.advocate.com/currentstory1_w_ektid35350.asp)
Peace activist James Loney knew he would be killed if his Iraqi captors found out he is gay. So did his partner, Dan, back in Canada, who had to go back into the closet.
By Michael Rowe
Excerpted from The Advocate August 29, 2006
Kidnapped in Iraq: The closet or death
The night before Canadian peace activist James Loney was due to leave Toronto for Baghdad, his longtime partner, Dan Hunt, held him close in the darkness of their bedroom.
“James turned to me and said, ‘What would you do if this was going to be our last night together? How would we spend it?’ ” Hunt remembers.
Earlier that evening they’d played “500 Miles” by the Proclaimers and danced together. They thought of it as their song, and the next day they played it in the car on the way to the airport. “I realized that the present was all we ever have,” Hunt says, “and that it was beautiful.”
Loney was making his third trip to Iraq as a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams—an ecumenical Christian organization opposed to violence and dedicated to spreading peace. The couple had talked about the possibility that Loney could die over there. “But, I said, ‘My worst nightmare would be if you got kidnapped and I saw videos of you on television,’ ” Hunt recalls.
On November 26, 2005, Loney was ambushed near the Umm al-Qura mosque in western Baghdad and kidnapped along with three colleagues. Their kidnappers, a previously unknown insurgent group calling themselves the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, demanded the release of all Iraqi prisoners being held by coalition forces. Otherwise, they said, they would kill the hostages.
Back home Hunt was forced into a kind of captivity all his own. Should Loney’s sexual orientation become known by his captors, he would almost certainly be killed. It had to be hidden. Officials handling the kidnapping, including Canada’s external affairs department, asked Hunt to stay out of the story. A widely reproduced photograph of a handsome, smiling Loney appeared in print with Hunt cropped out. Hunt couldn’t talk about the pain he was feeling. Outside a small circle of close friends, he couldn’t tap in to the kind of public sympathy and support that the spouses and families of the other captives were getting. “I called Dan right away,” says Loney’s brother Matt, a meteorologist in Vancouver who was traveling in Ecuador when he first heard the news. “I knew Dan would be affected very deeply by what was going on.”
Rowe is an award-winning Toronto-based journalist and the author of the essay collection Looking for Brothers.
08-13-2006, 09:21 PM
Wow, a gay Christian hero indeed. Amen.
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