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May 2005 Newsletter
Equal Marriage Rights
The Newsletter of the Interfaith Working Group
Soulforce, Dignity, EPF, Jimmy Creech
has officially joined Soulforce
as Chairperson of the Board.
Dignity/USA and Soulforce
have joined their voices for the November 12-14
non-violent action in Washington, DC to protest the
exclusionary policies of the Catholic Church toward
GLBT Catholics, to ask the
National Conference of
Catholic Bishops (NCCB)
to stop spiritual violence
against sexual and gender minorities, and support the
inclusion of GLBT Catholics into all aspects of church
Equal Partners in Faith
is co-sponsoring the event
and will host training sessions at
National City Christian
In a letter to Dignity members, Mary Louise Cervone,
President of Dignity/USA, said: "Through our actions,
we are seeking an end to the teachings that demean and
exclude us from full participation in our church as whole
and holy people, without having to hide or deny who we
Registration information for the D.C. action, as well
as press releases and copies of correspondence between
Soulforce and Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza, D.D.,
President, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, are
available at www.soulforce.org.
Nebraska Defense of Marriage Act
A full page ad appeared in the Omaha World-Herald
from various religious leaders urging Nebraskans to vote
"No on 416" (the Defense of Marriage Act).
The ad was signed by Roman Catholics, United Methodists, Episcopalians,
Disciples of Christ, Unitarians,
Presbyterians, Jews and members of the United Church
of Christ. The ad lists moral, legal and economic reasons
why the signers oppose the act. The ad concludes, "One
of the worst evils in history was human slavery, although
the Bible never condemns it. One of our greatest moral
ideals is democracy, although the Bible never suggests it.
But religious reform communities led the fight to end slavery and to
promote democracy, even while religious extremists argued passionately
that the Bible mandates slavery and obedience to royalty. The Bible
remains the unique source and authority for our lives, but God's
revelation is not limited to the page--God is still talking. Let
us continue a dialogue in mutual respect for all sides and
stay open to new insights."
The World-Herald reported that Omaha Archbishop
Elden Curtiss was unhappy that Roman Catholics, including a retired
priest, put their names on the ad; and that
the Bishop would be "contacting each of those individuals."
The World-Herald also reported that
"three Nebraska television stations won't run a commercial by
opponents of the proposed gay-marriage ban because it
uses a swastika." The commercial concludes with an
announcer warning: "...things like 416 have happened
before. Let's make sure they don't happen in Nebraska."
Fifty-nine United Methodists had an anti-DOMA letter published in the
Lincoln Star Journal, which concluded:
"History shows that whenever fear takes priority
over the Great Commandment of love for God and
neighbor, a drastic series of events is likely to follow. So
in the spirit of the German Confessing Church,
'We accuse ourselves for not witnessing more courageously, for
not praying more faithfully, and not believing more joyously, and for
not loving more ardently.'"
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Presbytery of New York City
adopted an overture to the
213th General Assembly requesting deletion
of G-6.0106(b) ("Amendment B") from the Book of
Order, and passage of a new authoritative interpretation
to end discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
Religious Right Donations?
The Miami Herald, New York Times,
Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel,
and gay.com reported a gift of $8 million
Chairman Steve Case and his wife Jean to
Jean Case's high school alma mater,
founded by religious right leader Rev. D. James
Kennedy, head of
Coral Ridge Ministries and the
Center for Reclaiming
America for Christ.
Rev. Kennedy's organizations are major producers of anti-gay,
anti-reproductive-freedom, pro-church-state entanglement,
and anti-ACLU material, and
organized the 1998 anti-gay, pro-ex-gay national ad
campaign. Westminster Academy's website calls it a
"division of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church." The Herald
quoted Jean Case: "The gift was not given to benefit
Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church or its programs...in no
way was the gift intended to send a message of intolerance. Steve and I
strongly oppose discrimination in
any form. We have worked to ensure that the Internet
medium has given a voice to all communities--including
the gay community." The Herald reported that Kennedy
said he had nothing to do with school operations.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, $7.2 million of the gift
will go toward construction of a new building for the
high school. According to gay.com, the Steven Case
foundation also donated $100,000 to the
McLean Bible Church,
which lists the
Family Research Council
and Focus on the Family
on their website's
links page as two of four "Christian Resources on the Web."
to contact Jean Case to express their reactions to the
Westminster Academy gift. You can write to Jean Case, c/o the Stephen Case
Foundation, 1650 Tyson Blvd., Suite 610, Mclean, VA 22102.
The Bangor Daily News reported that about fifty Roman Catholics
protested at the
headquarters over the Church's support for the antidiscrimination
ballot initiative which includes sexual orientation but exempts religious
institutions. According to the
paper, the protesters chanted: "We're here. We're Catholic.
We're faithful. Get used to it." Speakers at the
protest warned that the law would lead to the passage of
civil unions in Maine.
Focus on the Family later
that Maine Catholics had protested their Bishop's support for
United Church of Christ
North Raleigh United Church,
a new congregation of the
United Church of Christ (UCC)
was denied membership in the local Eastern North Carolina Association because of its Open and Affirming designation, despite a
non-binding denominational policy in favor of churches
being Open and Affirming, and the presence of three
Open and Affirming congregations in the 132-church association, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.
Unfortunately, because a majority of congregations in the
association are predominately African-American, the
News and Observer chose to portray the theological disagreement
in the association as a race issue. The
Southern Conference of the UCC, which includes the Eastern
North Carolina Association, had a story about the
congregation's first anniversary prominently displayed on
The Episcopal News Service reports that the
Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville, NC, and
Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Atlanta have
publicly decided to offer blessings for committed
same-gender couples, despite the refusal of the General
Convention in Denver to authorize such rites.
Later reports indicate that St. Bartholomew's has been
instructed by the diocese not to offer such blessings.
Focus on the Family
called: "Conservative Congregations Defect from Episcopal Church," which
only mentions one congregation, St. Mathias, in Monument, CO, which has
joined the new
Anglican Mission in America (AMIA). On October 4, the
Associated Press reported that "the oldest Episcopal congregation in Alabama" had joined AMIA, and that AMIA
had "17 congregations in at least 13 states."
Traditional Values and the Girl Scouts
Traditional Values Coalition,
in an article that appeared to be attempting to warn their readers about the
(who do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or religion),
quoted Mary Jo Kane ("a spokesperson for one of the Girl Scouts councils"): "I
can only imagine the energy and leadership that would be
unleashed in society if we spent our time and resources
encouraging our girls and everyone to be visible,
authentic, and bring 100 percent of themselves to all their
Religious Right and Church/State Separation
a federal judge rejected
an attempt by the
American Family Association (AFA) to
block the Lexington, MA school system's support for an
interfaith community program for National Coming Out
Week on the grounds that it violated church/state
separation. No school funds or facilities were used,
but the Lexington School District was listed as a
cosponsor. The district's attorney also said there was no religious
message, content or activities in the program, although some events
took place on church grounds
and involved clergy. U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro
concluded October 12 that "The weight of the evidence
before me is that this is a secular event without any
religious purpose or activity." According to PlanetOut, the
district's attorney noted that the AFA is usually fighting
to get more religion into schools.
Jimmy Carter's October 19 announcement of his resignation from the
Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)
received a great deal of media coverage, and was generally
portrayed as a disagreement over women's ordination.
On October 24, the SBC's Baptist Press published an
October 20 interview with President Carter, headlined,
"Carter states affirmation of homosexual ordination,"
which quotes the former president as saying: "...if we did
have a homosexual in our church who wanted to be ordained, it
would be decided not on sexual preference."
Carter also said: "Jesus never singled out homosexuals to
be condemned. When the Southern Baptist Convention
started singling out homosexuals as a special form or degree of sinfulness,
I didn't agree with it. Now, that target
has shifted to the subjugation of women."
Philadelphia Life Partnership Upheld By Court
The Philadelphia Life Partnership ordinances, which
many Philadelphia clergy, congregations, and religious
organizations support, has survived the first round of
court challenges from the
Urban Family Coalition's
William Devlin. According to a press release from the
Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, Devlin says he
will appeal, and that "the silence of the clergy and the
mayor influenced the Judge's decision." Center Director
Andrew Park said: "We continue to hope that judges
make decisions based on legal merit, not on...influence
exercised by politicians and community activists....
[Devlin's hope] that the mayor and clergy would...
influence...the judge shows how shallow his legal arguments are."
On October 5 the Oregonian ran an excellent story on
religious disagreement over Measure 9, a proposed state
law to ban "promoting or sanctioning homosexuality in
schools." The story begins: "They worship the same
God. They read the same Bible. Yet even in the nation's
most unchurched state, Christian leaders and groups are
emerging as central figures in the emotionally charged
battle over Measure 9..." The story has extensive quotes
from supporters of the measure and from members of
People of Faith Against Bigotry. An opponents of the
measure mentioned in the article is the Rev. Paul Davis,
an openly gay minister who was ordained into the
United Church of Christ at
Tabernacle United Church
The article also provides background information on opinions about sexual
orientation among Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists.
We've added four new clergy this month, bringing us
to a grand total of twenty-two congregations and religious organizations and
seventy-six clergy, for a total of
ninety-eight names on the
letterhead. This month's
additions are the Rev. Paul Hull and Rabbis Sandy
Parian, Leah Richman, and Ben Richman. Welcome to
all of you and thank you for your support! Are there two
congregations or religious organizations or clergy folk
out there who would like to push us up to one-hundred?
We do double check all requests for listings, so when we
contact you by phone or email in response, please