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Keeping the Faith The Newsletter of the Interfaith Working Group
June 1999


Anti-Gay TV Ads

On Mother's Day, the Center for Reclaiming America (self described "outreach of Coral Ridge Ministries to inform the American public and motivate people of faith to defend and implement the biblical principles on which our country was founded") and seventeen other organizations released the first television version of last year's anti-gay print ads. The first ad, called "Mom" features anti-gay ex-gay activist Michael Johnston and his mother. The Center's Jannet Folger said in the press release: "While the likely response to these ads by some will be name-calling and hostility, I guarantee that anyone who listens to Michael and his mother with an open mind will find only truth in love." The Washington Post quoted another Center spokesperson, who said the ads are debuting in Washington, DC because "that's where the policy makers are." Only one local station (the UPN affiliate) would air the ad, according to the Washington Times

Justice and Peace Consulting, of Northampton, MA has announced that they are scheduling dates for late summer and fall of 1999 for their 90-minute multimedia presentation The X-Gay Files: The Science Fiction of Conversion Therapy, examining the construction of images of gay men from The Gay Agenda through the latest television ads. For more information contact Cindy Beal, Justice and Peace Consulting.

Calculated Compassion: How the Ex-Gay Movement Serves the Right's Attack on Democracy, produced by Equal Partners in Faith, Political Research Associates and the NGLTF Policy Institute, can be downloaded or viewed online.

National Day of Prayer

According to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Congress intended the National Day of Prayer (May 6) as an interfaith "civil religion" occasion, but events surrounding the day have become increasingly dominated by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a group affiliated with James Dobson (Focus on the Family) and other Religious Right leaders. The Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United, noted that the Task Force materials told local organizers that they need not allow religions outside of the "Judeo-Christian" tradition to participate, and that every volunteer "must be a Christian who has a personal relationship with Christ."

The Maranatha Christian Journal reported that only Minnesota's governor did not make a proclamation. Governor Ventura explained: "There are people out there who are atheists, who don't believe at all, they are all citizens of Minnesota, and I have to respect that."

UUA vs. Boy Scouts Continues

The April 30 Boston Globe and May 15 Los Angeles Times reported that the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Boy Scouts of America had reached an agreement under which the UUA would delete comments about the Scouts' "homophobic and discriminatory attitudes" from its Religion in Life Award Manual, and print comments in a separate pamphlet mailed with the Manual.

The Globe reported on May 19 that the Scouts again revoked the UUA's authority to give out the awards, saying the separate pamphlet "reopens the whole issue of using boys as a venue to air the Unitarian Universalist Association's objection to scouting's commitment to duty, to God, and to traditional family values." According to the Globe, UUA President John A. Buehrens responded: "If they intend to start ripping badges off scout uniforms when our children earn a religious award, they are going to look very peculiar. We will continue to award the badge and our young people will continue to earn it."

NGLTF Domestic Partnership Organizing Guide

The Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) has published a comprehensive resource on domestic partnership benefits for journalists, public officials, advocates, employees and employers. The manual describes various strategies to achieve domestic partnership benefits, dissects policies already enacted, lists companies and municipalities offering benefits, and includes sample policies.

Brochures

We distribute our Welcoming Congregations Brochure at events like the concert, SundayOut and the Pride Parade; it lists congregations that welcome sexual minorities and their families and friends. Your congregation may already be listed; if it isn't and should be, please call.

We're also working on a religious liberty brochure which would be an introduction to church/state issues, with brief discussions of the problems inherent in school vouchers, organized school prayer, posting of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, etc. Call for copies of this brochure or our organizational brochure.

Church of the Open Door

The May 23 Chicago Tribune had a long feature story about the Church of the Open Door, which they called "the first Chicago congregation for African-American homosexuals and their families.

California "Dignity for All Students" Bill Attacked

The San Francisco Chronicle and the National Latina/o LGBT Organization (LLEGO) both reported that households with Spanish-sounding surnames received a brochure in the mail which has a picture of an African-American man and a Latino man kissing next to the phrase (in Spanish) "Protect the Children Against Homosexual Assault;" the text also asks people to contact Latino/a state legislatures to urge them to vote against the Dignity for All Students Act (AB222).

Letterhead Additions

Welcome to the Rev. James B. Robertson, of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, and Rev. George Tigh, United Methodist Church of Bala Cynwyd, to be added with the next printing.



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